Trailing 2-0 in sets, Canada, represented by Trinity Western, mounted a ferocious comeback attempt against Brazil Friday at the Langley Events Centre.
During day four of the U-23 Pan American Cup men’s volleyball tournament, TWU won back-to-back sets to send the match to a fifth set.
But the Brazilians managed to hold off the Spartans’ rally late as they eked out a 3-2 win in U23 Pan American Cup action in front of an electric crowd at the LEC.
Set scores were 25-19, 25-15, 21-25, 26-24, and 16-14.
Playing in an atmosphere that harkened memories of the Trinity Western-hosted 2011 CIS national championship, the Spartans used a dominant blocking effort, one that saw Trinity Western register 16 blocks.
Dan Jansen Van Doorn lead the way with a match-high nine blocks himself, as TWU rallied from two sets down.
Ultimately, Canada came up just shy in a tight fifth set.
Brazil, represented by its U21 team, proved why it is amongst the best junior teams in the world as the Brazilians stopped the Spartans surge just in time to capture a well-earned win and a spot in Sunday’s championship final.
The Spartans were led by Jansen Van Doorn, who had 18 total points, including eight kills to go along with his nine blocks, Nick Del Bianco, who had a match-high 17 kills, and Brad Kufske, who had 15 kills and two blocks.
Trinity Western libero-turned-setter Jarrod Offereins had his best outing at his new position, collecting a match-high 36 running sets.
For Brazil, it was Jonatas Cardoso leading the charge with 15 points, including 12 kills and three blocks, while Flavio Gualberto had 12 points, including seven kills and five blocks. Setter Thiago Veloso had 32 running sets and a match-high 20 excellent digs.
The win improves Brazil to 3-0 in the tournament with 13 points while the loss drops Canada to 2-1 with 10 points.
“They came out really sharp and put us in a lot of trouble,” Spartans’ coach Ben Josephson said. “Our ball control wasn’t good enough to play with them in the first two sets. But then we cleaned up our ball control, which forced them to hit the ball a little harder, which allowed our block to score. It was a game of checkers or chess and it was really fun volleyball to make plays and respond back and forth to each other.”
Brazil coach Leonardo Carvalho added: “Volleyball fans had an excellent show tonight with an excellent match played by both Canada and Brazil. In my opinion this has been the best one of the tournament.”
Down 2-0 the Spartans turned the tied their way during the third set.
With Trinity Western trailing 16-15, the Jansen Van Doorn wall took over. With a devastating block leading the way, the Spartans went on a 7-0 run that got the crowd roaring and the momentum firmly on Trinity Western’s side. From there, the Spartans held on for a 25-21 win.
In the fourth set, Brazil jumped out to an 10-6 lead and looked to be putting an early end to the match. But the Spartans never quit as they went on a 5-1 run, capped by a Kufske kill, to knot the set 11-11. However, each time the Spartans got close, Brazil pulled away, never allowing Trinity Western to take the lead. But with the score 24-22 and Brazil serving for the match, Trinity Western rallied. Scoring four straight points, led by a pair of set-turning kills from Del Bianco, the Spartans sent the match to a fifth set.
In the final set, the Spartans pulled out to a 9-6 lead but in the end couldn’t quite complete the comeback. With Trinity Western serving for the match at 14-13, Brazil roared back with three straight points to win 16-14.
Jarrod Offereins, Canada’s captain said, “Tonight was an unreal experience. Brazil is the best team in the tournament and we were just hoping to have a good game and compete with them and come out strong. It was nice to get some momentum from the crowd. We haven’t had that since nationals and it was fun to have that environment.”
Both teams conclude their round robin Saturday with Canada playing Argentina at 8 p.m. and Brazil taking on Mexico at 6 p.m.
To buy tickets for the U-23 Pan American Volleyball Cup, go to www.langleyeventscentre.com or visit the TWU Bookstore on the Trinity Western University campus.