The defending U SPORTS champion Trinity Western men’s volleyball team knocked off the two-time defending NCAA champion Long Beach State 3-2 (25-15, 23-25, 25-21, 25-27, 15-13) on the first day of the Can Am Volleyball Holiday Showcase Saturday at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.
After the Beach rallied late in the fourth set to extend the match, TWU responded well, finding its rhythm down the stretch to cap a wild contest between the current U SPORTS No. 1-ranked Spartans and AVCA No. 4-ranked Long Beach State.
The Spartans will now prepare to play No. 2-ranked UCLA Sunday at 7 p.m. (PT).
TWU, who finished the fall semester with an 11-1 record and winners of 30 straight sets, opened the contest in emphatic fashion rolling to a 10-point win in the first set.
However, after that, a tight contest prevailed, with the Beach edging TWU in the second set by two points before the Spartans re-established their lead with a 25-21 win in the third set.
The Spartans looked well on their way to victory in the fourth set, holding a 24-21 lead, but a surge from Long Beach State saw the American contingent finish the set on a 6-1 run to force the match to the maximum.
From there, TWU swung right back, nudging ahead throughout much of the final set before securing the win.
The tournament is set up in a Canada vs. USA format. Through the first day of competition, Canada has two wins (Alberta also beat Ohio State in five sets) and the USA has one (Lewis beat Ryerson in three sets).
Ben Ball – TWU Assistant Coach
“It was a bit of an up and down game for us. There were some moments where we played some good volleyball and found a bit of a groove and there were other moments where we struggled a bit. We showed some rust at times coming off the break, but it was good to find a way to get the win.”
On beating Long Beach State in a battle between national champions
“We tried to down play that a bit in the lead-up to the game. We were really focused on ourselves and honing in on our own game. We didn’t really have much tape on them, so it was more about us than them in our preparation. But, looking back on it, yea, it’s pretty neat to get a win like this. It was a great crowd and overall it was a cool experience.”
TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (ALL TIMES EST)
Sat. Dec. 28
2 p.m. – Lewis (3) Ryerson (0)
4:30 p.m. – Alberta (3) Ohio State (2)
7 p.m. – Trinity Western (3) Long Beach State (2)
Sun. Dec. 29
2 p.m. – UCLA vs. Ryerson Rams
4:30 p.m. – Ohio State vs. McMaster Marauders
7 p.m. – UCLA vs. Trinity Western Spartans
Mon. Dec. 30
2 p.m. – Ohio State vs. Ryerson Rams
4:30 p.m. – Lewis vs. McMaster Marauders
7 p.m. – Long Beach State vs. Alberta Golden Bears
Tues., Dec. 31
11:30 a.m. – Long Beach State vs. McMaster Marauders
2 p.m. – Lewis vs. Trinity Western Spartans
4:30 p.m. – UCLA vs. Alberta Golden Bears