LANGLEY, British Columbia – The No. 1 ranked Trinity Western men’s volleyball team won its first ever Canada West regular season league title as it finished the year with a 19-1 record following a 3-0 (25-15, 25-13, 25-16) win over No. 6 UBC Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
With their first place finish, the Spartans will host the Canada West Final Four Feb. 24-25 and, with four Canada West team qualifying for the CIS national championship, have automatically earned themselves a spot at the national title event March 2-4 in Kingston, Ont. where it will be hosted by Queen’s. The Spartans will play in the second semifinal Friday, Feb. 24 at 8:00 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.
Not unlike Friday night, the Spartans were an efficient lot from start to finish, hitting .443 compared to UBC, who hit .071, as they systematically made short work of the Thunderbirds on a night when everything seemed to go their way. And, fittingly, on senior night, the Spartans three fifth-year players were in on the match-ending score as Marc Howatson received the serve, Ben Ball made the set and Rudy Verhoeff got the kill.
Trinity Western was led by setter Ball, who had 37 assists, as he set the Canada West single season record for assists per set at 11.54. The previous record was held by Brandon’s Andrew Korol, who had 11.49 per set in 2008-09.
Also leading the way for the Spartans were Verhoeff, who had 16 kills, three digs and a block, Howatson, who had five aces, five kills, six digs and two blocks, and Lucas Van Berkel, who had five kills, six blocks, three digs and an ace.
The T-birds were led by Tanner Kozak, who had five kills and one block, Robert Bennett, who had four kills and two blocks, and Noah Derksen, who had four kills and two digs.
With the win the Spartans set the school record for most wins in the regular season and they have now won 17 in a row at the Langley Events Centre, including exhibition, regular season and playoffs.
The loss drops UBC to 10-10 on the season, as they finished sixth in the conference and will open the playoffs on the road against Alberta.
“We had winning the regular season as one of our key goals and they earned it all season long,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “They only had one blemish on their record, and we were soundly beaten that day, but it’s great to get that first ever for our program. It’s great to win the league and it’s great to get another home date for something that matters and it’s great to get a bye week and to do it on senior night is really special.
“We passed the ball really well. We served the ball really tough and once Benny [Ball] is in his system with the weapons we have around him, I thought he did a great job of giving them great opportunities and they made great decisions out of it. We had some match-up opportunities and Benny exploited them. It was a really fun night.”
The first set started with the teams trading points until the game was tied 9-9.
But then, a kill by Verhoeff launched the Spartans offensive attack as they scored six straight points to take a 15-9 lead following a Steven Marshall kill.
The T-Birds clawed back to within three points at 16-13 after a Kozak kill but shortly thereafter, it was the
Spartans reestablishing control and going on a 4-0 run to take a 20-13 lead. A Ball and Van Berkel block finished the set with the Spartans up 25-15. Trinity Western finished the set hitting .407 compared to UBC who hit .032.
Verhoeff had a set-high four kills while UBC’s Bennett and Kozak each had three kills.
The second set saw the Spartans in complete control as they started with a 5-1 run and never looked back. After a pair of Howatson aces, Trinity Western took a 10-5 lead and continued to roll.
With both Verhoeff and Marshall contributing three kills each, the Spartans hit .471 and only made two attack errors in the set, cruising to a 12-point win, 25-13. Howatson finished the set with three aces.
The T-Birds Kozak and Cary Brett each had two kills in the set to lead UBC, who hit .000.
The third set was simply more of the same as Trinity Western hit .462 en route to a convincing nine-point win.
With the score 3-3, a Dan Jansen Van Doorn ace sparked a 9-0 from the Spartans that gave Trinity Western a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. A kill from Van Berkel capped the run with the Spartans up 12-3.
From there, Trinity Western rolled the rest of the way as they never led by less than seven points.
Game Notes – TWU finished with eight blocks compared to UBC’s five…TWU had eight aces while UBC had one…TWU made eight attack errors compared to UBC who made 20.