Trinity Western University men’s volleyball alums Lucas Van Berkel (Edmonton, ‘14), Dan Jansen Van Doorn (Langley, ‘13) and Steve Marshall (Abbotsford, B.C., ‘13) helped Canada make volleyball history as the Spartans trio were part of the Canadian contingent that earned a bronze medal in the FIVB World League.
The third place finish, which Canada earned after beating the United States in four sets in the bronze medal match, marked the first time Canada has taken a spot on the World League podium. The World League is an annual international men’s volleyball competition featuring the best teams in the world.
Canada earned a spot in World League semifinals after upsetting Russia in a three-setter in pool play. The Canadians lost to eventual champion France in the semifinals to set up a bronze medal game against their North American rivals. Canada’s previous best finish in World League was fifth in 2013.
In the bronze medal game, Canada dropped the first set 25-18 before bouncing back to win three sets in a row, 25-20, 25-22, 25-21.
Jansen Van Doorn, who had been a prominent figure for Canada throughout the tournament, started the bronze medal match from the middle position, before giving way to fellow middle Van Berkel, who was on the court for the final three sets.
All three Spartans were part of TWU’s 2012 U SPORTS championship-winning team. Van Berkel and Jansen Van Doorn were also on the court for the Spartans 2011 national title, which TWU won on home court.
The Spartans, who are the two-time defending national champions, have seven players who are part of this summer’s senior national program. Along with the Van Berkel, Jansen Van Doorn and Marshall, TWU’s contingent with the senior program also includes Rudy Verhoeff (Calgary), Blake Scheerhoorn (Belleville, Ont.), Ryan Sclater (Port Coquitlam, B.C.) and Tyler Koslowsky (Abbotsford, B.C.).
Beyond that, and including Canada’s men’s U21 side, its senior women’s team and its beach teams, the Spartans have 16 current or former players who have represented or will represent their country this summer. TWU alum Chaim Schalk (Red Deer, Alta.), who represented Canada at the 2016 Rio Olympics in beach volleyball is currently playing on both the FIVB and AVP tours.
Last summer, Jansen Van Doorn, Marshall and Verhoeff also represented Canada at the Olympics in Rio.