SEMI-FINAL #2 CIS championship: Spartans upset defending champs, earn spot in final
Courtesy: TWU sports information / Photo credit
LANGLEY, B.C. (CIS) – For the second straight year the Trinity Western Spartans will play in the final of the CIS men’s volleyball championship thanks to a thrilling 3-2 semifinal win (25-17, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-9) over the defending national champion Calgary Dinos, Saturday night, at the Langley Events Centre.
Championship website (including complete stats): http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball
After losing to Calgary in four sets in the 2010 CIS gold medal game in Kamloops, B.C., the tournament host and fourth-seeded Spartans turned the tables in front of a near-capacity crowd and joined the third-ranked Brandon Bobcats in Sunday’s title match at 6 p.m. PST.
The TWU-Brandon matchup will mark the ninth all-Canada West national final in the last 10 years. Canada West teams have captured the last 16 CIS banners, and 32 of the past 35.
Trinity Western had appeared in two CIS finals prior to last year, winning its lone Tantramar Trophy in 2006 thanks to a straight-set victory over Alberta, and claiming silver in 2005 following a 3-2 loss to the Golden Bears. The Spartans are also assured of their sixth CIS medal in eight seasons - and in as many championship appearances - having also captured bronze in 2007 and 2004.
Once again TWU was led by Rudy Verhoeff, who had 19 kills and 10 digs, Marc Howatson (22 digs), Ben Ball (50 assists) and Josh Doornenbal (10 kills and 9 blocks). The Spartans replicated their five-set quarter-final win over Alberta on Friday by winning the first, third and fifth sets.
Playing in front of another electric crowd, the Spartans were an emotionally-charged bunch that was mentally wired to win it from the opening serve. So when they entered the fifth set, they were well prepared
"We wanted our players to be relaxed tonight. This was their moment," said Trinity Western head coach Ben Josephson. "We played with tremendous poise and toughness all night. We got pretty bang up in the fourth, but we rebounded with an amazing effort in the fifth set."
“We got beat down pretty good in that fourth set and going in the fifth set we just said ‘Freedom guys. This is worship. This is what we do. This is our chapel.’ And we played with unbelievable poise and toughness the whole night and I thought they embodied a lot of the identities we’ve been building into our team all season long.”
With a crazy pro-Spartan crowd supporting the hometown team, Trinity Western got off to a torrid start in the first set.
Thanks to a pair of kills each from Verhoeff and Mikiah Schalk, the Spartans pulled out to an 8-4 lead and had the crowd in a buzz.
With a kill and a block in quick succession from Lucas Van Berkel, TWU took a 10-4 lead and never looked back. The Dinos got as close as three points but the emotional wave coming from the Spartans crowd wasn’t about to let TWU allow Calgary any closer.
In the first set, TWU hit 18.9 per cent and held Calgary to -8.6 per cent.
In the second set, Calgary responded.
With the game tied 6-6, the Dinos went on a 4-0 run, with kills from Allen Meek and Graham Vigrass, to take a 10-6 lead and never trailed the rest of the way.
The Dinos maintained at least a three-point gap thanks to an eight-kill set from Vigrass and five kills from Meek. Trinity Western managed to get the game to 20-17 after a Nick Del Bianco kill, but Calgary replied with five of the next six points to take the set 25-18.
The statistical difference in the second set was Calgary’s attack. After Calgary hit in the negatives in the first set, they improved that to 45.7 per cent in the second set.
In the third set, the Spartans of the first set returned to the Langley Events centre as the blue and white took an early 9-4 lead.
But before TWU could take off any further, Calgary’s David Egan put a nasty block on Dan Jansen Van Doorn that sparked a 4-1 run for the Dinos that got them right back in the set.
The Spartans pushed their lead back up to four points and, after a block by Marc Howatson and Van Berkel, TWU possessed an 18-14 lead. But Calgary wasn’t about to break.
The Dinos went on a 6-2 run to even things at 20-20, with Meek getting the equalizing kill, and the game started from square one. And from square one, the Spartans won 5-3 as Josh Doornenbal sent his kill off a Calgary block and well beyond the back line for the win.
In the fourth set, not surprisingly, Calgary came out with a strong response. With the score 4-4, Calgary got three straight points, two of which came from a Meek ace and a Chris Hoag kill, and took a lead they would own for the rest of the set.
A Van Berkel kill over the middle got TWU to within three at 15-12, but then Calgary went on a 4-0 run and took a seven-point lead the Spartans couldn’t surmount. With his fifth kill of the set, Meek got the winning point, putting his attempt off the hands of a block and out.
In the fifth set, with the score tied 1-1, Calgary let a Van Berkel serve drop on the back line for an ace and gave TWU a 2-1 lead and the crowd seemed to take it from there. Stepping up their game from the stands, Trinity Western’s fans no doubt helped compile an 8-3 run to take a 9-4 lead.
And then a monster block from Van Berkel on Hoag put TWU up 11-6 and a couple of enormously hard serves from Schalk eventually helped win the fifth 15-9, which was capped by a Van Berkel kill.
“It was two very good teams playing good volleyball, maybe the best two teams in the country,” said Calgary coach Rod Durrant. “At the end of the day I thought they earned it. We played very well. We got momentum in the second and fourth set and just couldn’t carry that into the fifth yet because they were making plays and forcing us into some tough situations. I think they beat us. I don’t think we beat ourselves.”
Calgary was led by Vigrass, who had 20 kills, Jay Blankenau, who had 54 assists and Ciaran McGovern, who had 19 digs.
The Dinos will play Laval in the Bronze medal match Sunday at 3:00 p.m. PST.
Kills : Rudy Verhoeff (19), Josh Doornenbal (10), Lucas Van Berkel (9)
Points: Rudy Verhoeff (21), Lucas Van Berkel (16.5)
Blocks: Josh Doornenbal (9)
Digs: Marc Howatson (22)
Service aces: Lucas Van Berkel (3)
Assists: Ben Ball (50)
Player of the match: Rudy Verhoeff
Kills: Graham Vigrass (20), Allen Meek (14), David Egan (11)
Points: Graham Vigrass (21.5), Allen Meek (16)
Blocks: David Egan (5)
Digs: Ciaran McGovern (19)
Service aces: Curtis James (1)
Assists: Jay Blankenau (54)
Player of the match: Graham Vigrass
SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times LOCAL: Pacific Time)
NOTE: Live webcast of all matches at http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball
Friday, March 4
Quarter-final #1: Laval 3, UNB 0 (25-18, 25-14, 27-25)
Quarter-final #2: Brandon 3, McMaster 1 (25-15, 25-19, 21-25, 25-15)
Quarter-final #3: Trinity 3, Alberta 1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 21-25, 15-11)
Quarter-final #4: Calgary 3, Sherbrooke 0 (25-12, 26-24, 25-18)
Saturday, March 5
Consolation #1: McMaster 3, UNB 1(25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-16)
Consolation #2: Alberta 3, Sherbrooke 0 (25-22, 25-18, 25-9)
Semi-final #1: Brandon 3, Laval 0 (25-20, 25-20, 25-23)
Semi-final #2: Trinity Western 3, Calgary 2 (25-17, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-9)
Sunday, March 6
12:00 5th place: McMaster vs. Alberta
15:00 Bronze medal: Laval vs. Calgary
18:00 Championship final: Brandon vs. Trinity Western