TWU volleyball: Spartans take third

Team draws WolfPack in quarter-finals

Trinity Western's Lucas Van Berkel (left) and Mikiah Schalk team up to block Manitoba's Carson Kauenhowen during Saturday night's match at the Langley Events Centre. The Spartans won both nights to edge Manitoba for third place in the Canada West standings.

In a battle for third spot, it was the Trinity Western Spartans men’s volleyball team coming out victorious.

The Spartans were hosting the Manitoba Bisons at the Langley Events Centre, with both teams sporting identical 11-5 records.

Trinity Western (13-5) lost the first set on Friday, but came back to win the next six straight.

They won 3-1 (22-25,25-20,25-14,25-20) and 3-0 (25-17,25-17,28-26).

“I thought the first two sets were really smooth,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson, following Saturday’s victory. “We just made some really dumb errors at key times to allow the game to stay a little tighter in the middle section.

“But we had good runs and separated when we needed to (and) I thought it was a pretty good game compared to yesterday’s game.”

The team’s ability to pass the ball better opened things up offensively and they were also able to spread their attack across the court.

Rudy Verhoeff finished with 14 kills and Josh Doornenbal had a 52.6 per cent attacking rate. Marc Howatson also came through with 15 digs and five service aces.

The team started slowly on Friday before finding its rhythm.

“Manitoba had a good game plan that was picking on a couple of the weaknesses we have but a couple of guys off the bench gave us huge sparks and helped change some stuff up,” Josephson said.

“And then some of the starters picked up their game and the next thing you know, we were really rolling.”

Ben Ball finished the match with 50 set assists, while Jarrod Offeriens had 17 digs and Lucas Van Berkel had nine blocks.

Van Berkel was named the Canada West male athlete of the week for his efforts.

The third-place finish in league play means the Spartans, ranked fourth in Canada, will host the sixth-place Thompson Rivers WolfPack (9-9) in a best-of-three series at the Langley Events Centre. The games are Thursday and Friday, both at 8 p.m.. and if necessary, Saturday at 7 p.m.

The teams traded five-set victories back in early November.

The winner travels to Edmonton the following weekend for the Canada West final four championships.

The Spartans are guaranteed a spot at next month’s Canadian Interuniversity Sport national championships as the host team.

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