‘They wanted it more’
Coach Ben Josephson had his players staring across the net, watching the Alberta Golden Bears celebrate the Canada West men’s volleyball championship trophy.
The Bears had just shocked the Trinity Western Spartans 3-0 (25-20,26-24,26-24) on Saturday night at the Langley Events Centre in the Canada West Final Four gold medal match.
“It is painful to watch somebody take something that you were working hard to get,” he said afterwards.
“(Alberta) earned it, they wanted it more than we did and that’s the feeling we get.
“We were out-worked, out-prepared and out-played.”
The Bears were the third seed at while Trinity Western had gone 20-2 in the regular season — 11-0 at the LEC — including a pair of head-to-head wins over Alberta.
“We didn’t match the level of desire they had,” Josephson said, adding he would have to watch the game film to see if the Golden Bears had done something dramatically different than they did during their regular season matches.
“Statistically, the game was almost entirely a wash, so when it is like that, usually whoever wants it more makes those one or two big plays to swing a set and they made them (tonight) and we didn’t.”
“We don’t think you learn anything from losing (but) lessons get revealed,” Josephson added.
“So now the lesson is on the table. If you don’t play your top level in a championship game, it is difficult to win.”
Both Alberta and Trinity Western teams had already qualified for this week’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships in Calgary after winning their Canada West Final Four semifinals the night before at the LEC.
Alberta beat Thompson Rivers while the Spartans beat Manitoba 3-1 (25-17,25-21,22-25,25-19).
The Bears open this week’s CIS championships (Feb. 27 to March 1) as the top seed while the Spartans are seeded third and draw No. 6 Western in the quarter-finals.
This is Trinity Western’s fourth straight trip to nationals and after winning titles in 2011 and 2012, Western upset the Spartans in the 2013 quarter-finals.
“The poker analogy comes to mind,” Josephson said in previewing the championships.
“All you need is a chip and a chair and you can win the tournament. Now we have a chair at the table and a chip on our shoulder because we’re still upset about last year’s quarter-finals.
“We are pretty excited about the chance to go and redeem ourselves.”
Josephson picked up his second Canada West coach of the year award while Spartans setter Adam Schriemer earned the conference rookie of the year award.
And Lucas Van Berkel and Nick Del Bianco were both named first team all-stars.
“Those are team awards,” Josephson said.
“I have a great coaching staff, a really supportive wife, who is single-parenting my kids half the time, and I have great players.
“They work hard and they do what I am asking them to do. And if any of those aren’t in place, you can’t be recognized.”
Schriemer quarterbacked the team to a conference-best .313 hitting percentage.
“He helped guide our team to a conference best in wins and attack efficiency, which are the two most relevant statistics in judging a setter,” Josephson said.
“He still has a long way to go, but to have as much poise and understanding of the position at his age is a rare quality.”