Canada West Semi Final: Trinity Western sinks Dinos in five-sets
by Paul Owen
Archive photo courtesy TWU Athletics
EDMONTON - The Trinity Western Spartans continued their penchant for starting slow, losing the first set of the Canada West Final Four semifinal matchup to the Calgary Dinos, but the third seed recovered to upset the second-seeded Dinos 3-2 (22-25, 29-27, 25-20, 17-25, 15- 9) Saturday at the University of Alberta Pavilion.
"The same two errors keep popping up for us: we keep losing first sets, and we keep losing the finishing set, so when we're up ... 2-1, we lose the fourth," TWU head coach Ben Josephson said.
"I thought we started slow. Calgary was a little more prepped in the first set than we were, and they took it to us pretty good. I thought our guys responded really well in the second and third."
Calgary seemed to have all the momentum heading into the fifth set after a taking the fourth 25-17 while forcing the Spartans into nine attack errors and a .032 attack percentage in the set, but they couldn't sustain that pressure into the fifth set.
"We played good at times and put some pressure on them, but they passed, probably in the end, better than us, and ... at the end of the day, they were better than us on the whole," admitted Calgary head coach Rod Durrant.
"We just got down a little bit; a couple of communication errors, a couple of bad passes, and they were able to capitalize on that."
The Spartans turnaround coincided with that of their serving game. Through the first two sets, the Spartans made ten service errors and no aces, but they stuck with their tough-serving game plan and it paid off as they racked up six aces in the next three sets while making only ten more errors in them.
"(Calgary) has such great middle play and great setting that we felt that we had to take some more risks on the serve than we usually do. We don't like to miss as many serves. We don't have great jump servers, but we felt that if we just served good floats and they got on fire, we were going to be in trouble all night. So we decided to take a risk," Josephson explained.
Left side hitter Steven Marshall (2nd, Abbotsford, BC) led the way for TWU, racking up team highs in aces (3) and kills (21), while Marc Howatson (3rd, Victoria) added 17 kills and Joshua Doornenbal (4th, Edmonton) added 10 on a .444 attack percentage.
Durrant was happy with his team's performance at times, but his team couldn't maintain consistency over the course of all five sets.
"We're happy with parts of our game, but in order to be successful, we have to maintain that for five sets," he said.
Calgary was led offensively by 14 kills from Graham Vigrass (3rd, Calgary) and 11 kills, four aces and five blocks from Oleg Podporin (5th, Almaty, Kazakhstan).