WINNIPEG – The No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans came from behind and defeated the No. 4 University of Alberta Golden Bears in a very tight five-set match 3-2 (22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 29-27, 15-8) in the second semi-final of the Canada West Final Four on Friday, March 10 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
With the win, Trinity Western will play the No. 2 University of Manitoba Bisons in the Canada West finals tomorrow night at 8 p.m. CT, while Alberta will take on the #6 UBC Thunderbirds for the bronze medal at 6 p.m. CT tomorrow night.
“We beat them last time we played, so they made a bunch of adjustments on what we have done well” Spartans head coach Ben Josephson said of Alberta. “Once we cleaned up our serve and pass we were able to put them into trouble.”
Josephson stated he is excited about the roaring crowd they will play in front of tomorrow night in the Canada West finals, and that it will only fuel his team.
“Everybody in sport wants to play in a match that means something” said Josephson. “So when you have lots of people cheering for or against you, and it’s for a championship and a banner, that is what you dream about.”
Adam Schriemer was named player of the game for Trinity Western, while Reed May received that honour for Alberta. Ryan Sclater led the Spartans with 17 kills and Blake Scheerhoorn came up with nine digs, while Alex McMullin led the Golden Bears with 18 kills.
Alberta came out strong against the No. 1 ranked team in the nation, and took the opening set 25-22. Ryan Nickifor and Alex McMullin led the Golden Bears with four kills apiece, and Brett Walsh came up with four huge digs for the Bears as well. Ryan Sclater and Eric Loeppky connected on three kills each to help keep the Spartans close in the opening frame.
The second set was neck-and-neck throughout, with Alberta up just 16-15 at the technical timeout. The Spartans took a late 19-18 lead before the Golden Bears stole it right back to lead 21-20 which forced a Trinity Western timeout. Out of the timeout, the Golden Bears scored four of the next five points to take the second set 25-21. Ryan Nickifor and Alex McMullin each had four kills for a second straight set, with the team slamming down a total of 14 kills to Trinity Westerns 11. Kevin Proudfoot also came up big for Alberta, as he came up with six digs in the frame. Blake Scheerhoorn had a much better set for the Spartans, spiking down four kills compared to just one in the opening set.
The Spartans got off to a quick 3-0 start in the third set, but the Bears responded and did not let it get out of hand early on. The Spartans took a slim 16-14 lead into the technical timeout, after which the teams exchanged points, and the game was tied at 19 heading into a Trinity Western timeout. The Spartans came out of the timeout firing on all cylinders and scored three straight points, with Pearson Eshenko recording a kill and a service ace within that span. The Spartans went on to score three of the next four points to take the third set 25-20 to keep their hopes alive. Trinity Western slammed down 13 kills in the set, with Ryan Sclater recording five and Blake Scheerhoorn connecting on four.
The fourth set was the most competitive, with the teams exchanging points and three point runs throughout. Trinity Western held an 18-14 lead before Alberta put together four straight points to tie the set at 18. The Spartans responded with two straight points to take a 20-18 lead, but once again the Bears responded with three straight points to take the lead which included a powerful kill from Nickifor. The teams exchanged points for the remainder of the frame with Ryan Sclater converting a kill to give the Spartans a 25-24 lead. Taylor Arnett responded with a kill of his own to tie the game at 25, and then he committed a service error on the very next play to give the lead right back to the Spartans. Pearson Eshenko came up with a late block to give Trinity Western the 28-27 lead, before the team scored the next point to force a fifth set. Sclater had six kills in the set, and Nickifor had five.
The Spartans carried their momentum into the final set and stormed out to a 9-4 lead. Blake Scheerhoorn slammed down an important kill to take the lead 14-8 before the Spartans scored the winning point on an Alberta attack error, and completed the comeback.
Set Scores: (Trinity Western listed first): (22-25, 21-25, 25-20, 29-27, 15-8)
TRU: Ryan Sclater (17)
ALB: Alex McMullin (18)
TRU: Adam Schriemer (43)
ALB: Brett Walsh (48)
TWU: Blake Scheerhoorn (9)
ALB: Kevin Proudfoot (16)
TWU: Adam Schriemer and Pearson Eshenko (6)
ALB: Taylor Arnett (9)