Spartans can’t close out Bisons

Trinity Western men's volleyball team twice a set away from victory, but comes up short both times to Manitoba

Dan Jansen Van Doorn goes for the kill during his team’s match against the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.

It is unfamiliar territory for the Trinity Western Spartans.

The men’s volleyball team dropped a pair of five-set decisions to the visiting Manitoba Bisons over the weekend at the Langley Events Centre.

The Spartans (11-5) have now dropped three straight games, all in five sets. This is the program’s longest losing streak since they dropped four straight Canada West matches in the 2007/08 season.

“We are having a hard time finding the competitive balance required to win these tough matches against playoff opponents,” said coach Ben Josephson.

“Some athletes are under-activated and some might be over-activated and the pressure is getting to them.

“Not a lot of these guys have been in these types of matches and had to play as big a role as they do now.”

After Manitoba took the opening set 25-20, the Spartans won the second and third sets, 25-23 and 25-14, respectively. But in the fourth set, the Bisons stayed alive with a 25-23 win and then took the decisive set 15-13.

Nick Del Bianco led the home side with 22 kills and 13 digs while Steven Marshall added 18 kills, 12 digs and six blocks. Dan Jansen Van Doorn had a career-high 14 blocks, along with four kills. Setter Scott Plocktis had 50 assists.

In Friday’s match, Trinity Western was ahead 2-0 (28-26 and 25-19) but the Bisons stormed back to win the next three (25-23, 25-21 and 15-11).

“They raised the intensity level and they out-played us after the first two sets,” Josephson said.

Del Bianco (18 kills, four aces), Marshall (14 kills), Jansen Van Doorn (12 kills, six blocks), Brad Kufske (12 kills, 12 digs) and Jarrod Offereins (14 digs) led the team. And Devyn Plett had a career-high 60 assists to go along with his 10 digs.

The Spartans will look to return to the win column with a pair of matches this weekend in Calgary against the Mount Royal Cougars.

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