Sports

Spartans clinch top spot, home-court advantage

The Trinity Western Spartans have guaranteed themselves a spot in the Canada West final four — which they will be hosting — thanks to picking up a victory over the weekend.

The men’s volleyball team, which is ranked first in the country, improved to 18-2 on the season after splitting a pair of matches in Brandon against the host Bobcats.

The ninth-ranked Bobcats had won 3-0 (26-24,25-20,25-23) on the Friday night before Trinity Western bounced back to win in five sets 3-2 (18-25,25-19,25-21,19-25,15-13).

With two regular season games remaining, the Spartans are locked into top spot and will bypass the Canada West quarter-finals.

They will host the conference semifinals on Feb. 21 and 22 at the Langley Events Centre.

Following Friday night’s loss, Spartans coach Ben Josephson had questioned what sort of character his team would display and how they would respond. And he was happy with what he saw in Saturday’s victory.

“It was a great match and the best match we’ve played in all year,” Josephson said.

“It was the best opponent we’ve played and it was in a hostile environment.

“They’re desperate to make the playoffs and we were desperate to clinch first.”

“I thought tonight we made great strides in learning how to play in this playoff-like pressure environment,” he added.

Saturday’s victory saw a solid team effort with four players hitting double digits in kills and the team finishing at nearly 33 per cent in hitting percentage.

Nick Del Bianco led the way with 18 kills and three blocks. Ryan Sclater (16 kills), Brad Kufske (13 kills) and Lucas Van Berkel (12 kills) also had big games. Adam Schriemer had 57 set assists.

Friday’s match was the first time the Spartans were swept since 2012. The team would not lose again after that on their way to the CIS national championship.

“Hopefully this group responds in a similar fashion that that group responded,” Josephson said.

Kufske and Del Bianco each had nine kills, three blocks and an ace in the losing effort.

The Spartans close out the regular season with a pair of home games at the Langley Events Centre this weekend against the Winnipeg Wesmen (9-11).

•••••

The Trinity Western Spartans women’s volleyball team saw their 10-match winning streak come to an end with a straight sets defeat to the host Brandon Bobcats.

The teams played a two-game set over the weekend with each one winning in straight sets.

The Spartans, ranked third in the country, won 3-0 (25-21,25-10,25-15) on Friday.

The Bobcats, ranked second, won 3-0 (25-13,25-11,25-21) on Saturday and the result leave both teams tied for second place in the Canada West conference with 15-5 records heading into the final weekend of regular season play.

Regardless of what happens this week, neither team can catch first-place UBC (18-2) nor fall below third place in the standings. They will both host a Canada West best-of-three quarterfinal.

“We didn’t match the energy and intensity in which they played,” said Trinity Western coach Ryan Hofer.

“We outplayed them on the serve receive battle yesterday and they did that to us today. We couldn’t manage and control the ball as well as they did.

“We just need to go back to the drawing board and we’re going to sue this weekend to get better.”

Sophie Carpentier led the Spartans with nine kills while Royal Richardson had five kills in Saturday’s defeat.

Friday’s victory saw the team use a strong serve and block for the straight-sets victory.

The team had 10 aces and nine blocks in the win with Alicia Perrin leading things with 10 kills, three aces and five blocks.

Carpentier had 15 kills, four aces and three blocks and Richardson came up with 12 kills, seven digs, two aces and two blocks.

The Spartans close out the regular season with a pair of home games at the Langley Events Centre on Friday and Saturday against Winnipeg (8-12).

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