Canada swept the Dominican Republic in its second match of the U-23 Pan American Cup, but it took a lot of work to do it.
Canada, represented by Trinity Western's men's volleyball team, moved to 2-0 in the international tourney with a three-set win over the Dominicans Thursday at the Langley Events Centre.
Set scores were 25-18, 27-25, and 27-25.
Thanks to an impressive blocking system that saw the Spartans stuff the Dominicans 17 times, Trinity Western eked out a tight three-setter to remain unbeaten at the tournament.
After a dominating effort from Trinity Western in the opening set that saw the home side cruise to a seven-point win, the second and third sets were back-and-forth affairs that realistically could have gone either way.
Fortunately for the Spartans, they were able to pull out back-to-back clutch efforts en route to 27-25 wins in both the second and third sets.
The Spartans had a balanced attack as four different players hit double-digits in points, with Dan Jansen Van Doorn and Brad Kufske each registering 13 points while Nick Del Bianco had 11 points and Branden Schmidt had 10. Trinity Western's impressive blocking effort was led Jansen Van Doorn, who had six blocks, and Schmidt, who had four.
For the Dominicans, Pedro Luis Garcia led the team with 18 kills while Luis David Adames added 10 points, including eight kills and two blocks.
The Dominican Republic dropped to 0-3 and has only won one set while losing nine.
"I thought it was a really good match," Spartans' coach Ben Josephson said, following the victory. "I thought the match was really close. I was really proud of our guys to respond after our performance against Mexico. I thought our guys got better tonight and did a better job. I thought our blocking was the difference tonight. Their passing was good but our blocking was able to stop some of their great athletes. Our goal was to slow their attackers down and we did just enough to win."
Dominican Republic coach Osiel Hernandez added: "They were so strong and it was tough for us. Unfortunately we made a lot of mistakes at the end and our captain could not do the things as expected."
Trinity Western, with support from a boisterous hometown crowd, got off to a quick start in the opening set as they led largely throughout and rolled to a comfortable 25-18 win.
But in the second set, the match tightened.
While the Spartans rarely trailed in what would be the middle stanza, the Dominicans never let them pull away.
The score remained close throughout until the Spartans, with Jansen Van Doorn at the service line, broke a 19-19 tie with four straight points to take a 23-19 lead.
But, as had been the case throughout the set, the Dominicans were not to go away easily. They quickly responded with four straight points of their own to knot the set 23-23. But with the set tied 25-25, the Spartans finally ended it with back-to-back points to win 27-25.
The third set looked like a carbon copy of the second, just flipped.
This time, it was the Dominicans taking the early lead and, while the Spartans remained close, never letting Trinity Western take control. The Spartans continually evened the match but on five different occasions down the stretch were unable to get the next point to take the lead.
Finally, with the score 23-23, Del Bianco earned his second straight ace to give Trinity Western a 24-23 lead. However, the Dominicans managed to even the score 24-24 and then, staving off match point again, 25-25. But, like the second set, the Spartans notched the last two points and, with the Dominicans called for a centre line violation on the set's final point, Trinity Western took the match.
"We came out a lot different from last night," said Spartans captain Jarrod Offereins. "We were definitely more prepared because we watched Dominican Republic in the past two matches and we knew we'd have to work hard because they're a very strong team. We came out with the appropriate energy and we executed our skills at a higher level. Our block defence is what pushed us to the win. Dominican played great and pushed us late but it worked out for us in the end."
Dominican captain Wilfrido HernÂ ndez, added: "We were so close. It was a great match. We tried hard to make it but in the end we could not."
Both teams are back on the court tonight (Friday) as the Spartans will take on Brazil at 8 p.m. while the Dominican Republic will play Mexico at 6 p.m.
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