Sports

TWU volleyball: Spartans fight hangover

The Trinity Western Spartans season ended with jubilation last March as national championships MVP Rudy Verhoeff was hoisted up by the Spartan fans after they won the CIS gold medal. Verhoeff will play a key role as the Spartans look to recapture that success. - Langley Times
The Trinity Western Spartans season ended with jubilation last March as national championships MVP Rudy Verhoeff was hoisted up by the Spartan fans after they won the CIS gold medal. Verhoeff will play a key role as the Spartans look to recapture that success.
— image credit: Langley Times

Championship teams always talk about the hangover that follows the next season as they try to recapture that success.

Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball coach Ben Josephson admits this is true.

“(The hangover) is definitely a real thing,” the coach said as his team prepared for the start of the Canada West regular season this weekend.

The 2009 and 2010 seasons both ended in heartbreak: an upset loss in the playoffs the first year, and then a loss in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport gold-medal game the next.

But the Spartans ended 2011 with a national title, winning the gold medal on their home floor as the host squad of the championship tournament.

“The guys were hungry when they came into train (last year),” Josephson said. “So you lose a little bit of that edge once you have won and your season ends with that sort of excitement.”

The team enters the season ranked No. 1 in the country.

“We have talked about moving our targets from our backs to our fronts and say ‘if you want to take a shot at us, here we come,’” he said.

“We are not defending our championship, we are going to go earn another one.”

Leading the way will be a trio of fifth-year players: Rudy Verhoeff, Marc Howatson and Ben Ball.

Verhoeff and Howatson spent the summer playing for Canada at the FISU (World University) Games.

They will lead what Josephson calls his most talented roster, top to bottom, which should come in handy playing in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference.

The top five teams in the country, and seven of the top 10, are from Canada West.

“We have a number of great pieces so we can absorb the bumps and bruises of a season without losing too much of our performance with our depth,” Josephson said.

“I think because of the talent we have it will set us up for a really good playoff run.”

“And to win a championship, you have to get some bounces, you have to get a lucky a little bit because there are a lot of really good teams ready to win at the end of the year,” he said, adding the Spartans should be in the mix.

“That is one of our goals, to make sure we are in the national tournament. And if we do, I think we have as good a shot as anybody.”

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