For the second night in a row, the Trinity Western University men's volleyball team knocked off the Saskatchewan Huskies in four sets, as the Spartans earned a four-set win Saturday at the Langley Events Centre.
Set scores were 25-20, 25-17, 24-26, and 25-18.
After the Spartans won the first two sets in decisive fashion and possessed a 17-10 lead in the third set, the Huskies rallied to win the third set 26-24, and forced a fourth set.
Unfortunately for the visitors, the comeback ended there, as TWU was dominant in the fourth set en route to picking up its seventh win in a row.
The Spartans improved to 7-1 on the season while the Huskies fell to 3-5.
Trinity Western was led Nick Del Bianco, who had 12 kills, five aces, and two blocks, Brad Kufske, who had 12 kills, five blocks and nine digs, and Lucas Van Berkel, who had seven kills, four aces, and four blocks.
Setter Scott Plocktis put together his best night as a Spartan as he had 40 assists as well as six digs and two blocks.
For the Huskies, it was Bryan Fraser leading the charge with 12 kills and seven digs, while Jordan Nowakowski had five kills and two blocks. Setter Chris Gilbert had 28 assists and four digs.
"I was really happy with the way we played," said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. "We came out and we executed what we wanted to. Our middles were great the whole game. I thought it was two very tired teams_ grinding it out. Thank goodness we slept in our own beds last night. That was probably the difference."
The Spartans jumped out to a two-set lead and threatened to win the match in three straight.
The third set saw TWU open a quick 6-1 lead and then pushed that advantage to 17-10 midway through the set. But just when it looked like the Spartans were going to run away with the set, and the match, the Huskies proved their mettle with a monster comeback.
Saskatchewan fought all the way back and took its first lead of the set at 22-21 after a pipe ball kill from Fraser. Then, with the score tied 24-24, Saskatchewan notched two straight points to complete the comeback.
A Spartans attack error gave the Huskies the winning point at 26-24. Despite collecting seven aces in the third set alone, the Spartans found themselves forced into a fourth set.
"I thought in that third set a lot of things broke down," Josephson said. "We went up 18-12 and then we just lost our edge and our opponents stayed with it and kept generating momentum. It was interesting that the third set was our best serving set but that was the one we lost. We need to address how to keep our edge when the rallies are short."
The Huskies came out in the fourth set buzzing and nabbed a 5-3 lead. But TWU quickly got back into it and then, with the score 8-8, went on a set-turning 7-1 run. With that, the Spartans took a 15-9 lead and this time didn't let the Huskies rally. With a back row kill from Del Bianco, the Spartans took the set 25-18.
Both teams are back in action Nov. 23-24 with the Spartans in Winnipeg to take on the Wesmen while the Huskies are in Calgary to play Mount Royal.
Spartans win battle
It was a back-and-forth battle from the opening serve to the final point, but in the end, the Spartans prevailed in four sets over the Huskies Friday at the LEC.
Set scores were 27-25, 25-22, 24-26, and 25-19.
In a match that included 36 tie scores and 15 lead changes, the Spartans got past the Huskies by putting up a .241 attack percentage compared to Saskatchewan's .149.
After the Huskies closed the gap with a third set win and then kept it close through the middle stages of the fourth set, the Spartans poured it on late as they ran away with the final set, winning 25-19.
Trinity Western was led by Del Bianco, who had 19 kills and a .310 hitting percentage to go along with three blocks. Kufske added 13 kills, six blocks and three aces while Steven Marshall, making his first start at home in 2012 after getting injured in the Spartans first match of the year, had 15 kills, 17 digs and three blocks. Libero Tyler Koslowsky had a match-high 20 digs as well as seven assists. Setter Scott Plocktis had 40 assists and 10 digs.
"We knew it was going to be tough coming in because they're really big, they're physical and they're really well-coached," Spartans' coach Ben Josephson said. "I thought we did a good job of adjusting and finding shots. Every set was really close and it could have gone either way.
"I'm pleased with how our guys responded in the fourth set after losing the third. We've been talking a lot about how we are going to emotionally respond when things don't go our way. And it was good to see the guys come back and get it done in the fourth."