The Trinity Western University men's volleyball team, representing Canada, was held off the podium at the U23 Pan American Cup.
TWU lost to the Dominican Republic in three straight sets in the bronze medal match Sunday at the Langley Events Centre.
Set scores were 25-23, 25-15, and 25-23.
After beating the Dominicans in straight sets during round robin play, the Spartans were unable to duplicate the feat Sunday as they finished the tournament with three straight losses, a 2-3 record, and a fourth place finish overall. TWU's hopes for a gold medal appearance were dashed Saturday after losing in straight sets to Argentina in its final round robin game.
The Dominicans finished the tournament with a 2-3 record and the bronze medal.
The Spartans were led by Lucas Van Berkel, who had six kills and five blocks, Brad Kufske, who had nine kills and Nick Del Bianco, who had five kills and two blocks.
For the Dominican Republic, Pedro Luis Garcia had 19 kills and one block while Luis David Adames finished with 14 kills and one block. Wilfrido Hernandez added a team-high four blocks.
"It's really hard to beat a good volleyball team twice in a row and we saw that tonight," Spartans' coach Ben Josephson said, following his team's loss. "The first night [during the round robin] we got a win and probably surprised them, but over the last few days they watched us and prepared for us and cleaned up some of things we did well in the first match. Their service reception today was spectacular. We weren't able to get much going until the third game but credit to the Dominican Republic coaching staff and players on a good match."
Osiel Vazquez, coach of the Dominican Republic, said: "I want to congratulate Canada, because they played five matches that were very demanding for them in the tournament. I feel happy for my athletes, because we achieved the goal of winning a medal."
In the opening set, the score was knotted at 14-14 when the Dominicans took over. Going on a 4-0 run, they grabbed the lead and never trailed the rest of the way.
While the Spartans roared back from a 23-19 deficit to tie the set 23-23, a pair of points from the Dominican Republic snuffed out the Spartans' comeback attempt and ended the set.
In the second stanza, the Dominican Republic built a 16-12 lead, then took off on a 7-1 run to put the game out of reach en route to a 10-point set win.
In the third set, it was the Spartans getting out to a hot start as they jumped out to an 11-6 advantage. Trinity Western maintained its lead through the middle stages and was up 18-14 shortly after the second technical timeout.
But that's when things turned for the Dominicans.
Substituting setter Cesar Junior Alcantara Cabulla for Hansell Ponceano, the Dominicans went on a 7-1 run that gave the eventual victors all the momentum. The Spartans never fully recovered and the Dominicans held the Spartans off just enough to earn a two-point win and the match.
"The Dominican Republic played a great game today," Spartans' captain Jarrod Offereins said, following the match. "They were much more prepared for us this time around. They executed well.
They took it to us and we fell apart in different parts of different sets. Tonight it wasn't a good performance again.
Two nights in a row, it's tough to take, but we'll learn from it and get ready to start the season."
Dominican captain Wilfrido Hernandez said: "Winning this medal means a lot for us. We really wished it and wanted it."
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