EDMONTON – Trinity Western’s men’s volleyball team are back-to-back Canada West champions and now the Spartans are looking to earn consecutive national championships, as they head to the 2017 U SPORTS FOG Men’s Volleyball Championship as the top seed in this year’s national tournament.
The Spartans will open their championship tournament with a quarter-final match against Waterloo Friday at 12 p.m. (PT) at the University of Alberta’s Saville Community Sports Centre.
TWU SPARTANS | U SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEW
By the Numbers – Regular Season Statistics
Team Statistics (U SPORTS Ranking)
Kills Per Set – 12.58 – 3rd
Hitting Percentage – .307 – 2nd
Assists Per Set – 11.94 – 2nd
Aces Per Set – 2.01 – 1st
Digs Per Set – 8.33 – 25th
Blocks Per Set – 2.27 – 14th
Points Per Set – 16.9 – 1st
Individual Leaders (U SPORTS Ranking)
Kills Per Set – Ryan Sclater – 4.29 (5th)
Hitting Percentage – Blake Scheerhoorn – .318 (10th)
Assists Per Set – Adam Schriemer – 10.28 (2nd)
Aces Per Set – Eric Loeppky – 0.55 (2nd)
Digs Per Set – Carter Bergen – 1.98 (26th)
Blocks Per Set – Aaron Boettcher – 1.21 (4th)
Points Per Set – Ryan Sclater – 5.0 (5th)
TWU SPARTANS PREVIEW
They have one championship defence down and one to go. On the heels of a second straight Canada West crown, TWU is now aiming to duplicate its title defence at the national tournament. The Spartans enter this year’s U SPORTS tournament as one of the on-paper favourites after a dominant season in which they posted a program record 21-win season before capturing the fourth conference title in their history.
With TWU set to compete in its eighth straight national championship tournament and 12th in the program’s history, the Spartans will be looking for their fourth U SPORTS title in seven years and what would be their sixth national final appearance in eight years. Going back to last season, the Spartans enter this year’s season-ending tournament riding an 11-match winning streak in the playoffs.
This year’s campaign saw TWU open the season with 11 straight wins before suffering its first loss of the year in early January against Saskatchewan. The Spartans schedule put TWU through a Canada West gauntlet down the stretch, with the now two-time conference champions dropping matches against Alberta and Winnipeg. However, on the final weekend of the season, TWU knocked off then-No. 1 Manitoba on back-to-back nights to cap its regular season in emphatic fashion.
As team, the Spartans were as statistically dominant as any team in the country during the regular season. TWU finished the year first or second in U SPORTS in points per set, aces per set, assists per set and hitting percentage. With a conference championship that proved the Spartans mettle – TWU rallied to win both the semifinal (down 2-0) and the final (down 2-1) – the defending U SPORTS champions look primed to make yet another run at a national title.
The Spartans outside attack is as vaunted as they come in Canada, led by the trio of Ryan Sclater, who was named the Canada West Player of the Year, Blake Scheerhoorn, who was last year’s national championship tournament MVP, and Eric Loeppky, who was the Canada West Rookie of the Year and led the conference in aces per set. The fifth-year Sclater led the way this year having put together the best statistical regular season in TWU history as he averaged 4.29 kills per set and put up 427.5 points, which is the fifth best single-season performance in Canada West history.
Add to that, the likes of Scott Plocktis, Jacob Kern and Ben Lieuwen and TWU’s outside depth is unequaled across the country.
Adam Schriemer once again led TWU’s offence, helping the Spartans to a .307 hitting percentage, which was the second best mark in the country, while averaging 10.28 assists per set, which put him second amongst all U SPORTS athletes. As a starter, he is 78-11 in four years with TWU in the regular season and playoffs. First-year Maddux Greves started just one regular season match this year, leading the Spartans to a 3-0 win over UBC Okanagan.
The daunting duo of Aaron Boettcher and Pearce Eshenko is arguably the best in the country. Boettcher finished fourth in U SPORTS with 1.21 blocks per set, while Eshenko averaged 0.82 blocks per set. Boettcher also finished second in Canada West with 0.49 aces per set. Fifth-year veteran Leigh Goossen, who was a starter for TWU during last year’s national championship run, provides enviable depth off the bench.
In his first year as a starter, Carter Bergen seamlessly stepped into the libero role and has been a steadying force on the defensive side of the ball for the Spartans. Bergen led TWU with 1.98 digs per set. Fellow veteran Mark Antoniuk has proven to be a valuable defensive piece for the Spartans this year and provides quality depth for TWU’s backcourt.