Men’s Volleyball (CIS National Championship)
Friday, March 02, 2007
TWU Spartans (3) at the University of McMaster Marauders (2)
(23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 26-24, 15-9)
SPARTANS SURVIVE SCARE BY TOUGH MARAUDER SQUAD
-Reigning champs overcome 2-0 deficit to advance to championship semi-finals
HAMILTON – Inspired by the return of middle’s Clayton Peters (Abbotsford, B.C.) and Doug Van Spronsen (Dawson Creek, B.C.) the Trinity Western University men’s volleyball team came from behind to survive against the host McMaster University Marauders Friday Night at Mac’s Burridge Gym. Trailing two-sets-to-none the defending CIS champs dug deep to defeat the number eight seed Marauders 3-2 (23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 26-24, 15-9) in front of a capacity pro-Mac crowd.
“Going into the first round matches you have to always expect the best from the opposition. When we watched video on McMaster we saw that they were one of the best teams that Ontario has put out in a while and we were not going to underestimate this team,” said TWU middle Doug Van Spronsen. “We did not come out as sharp as we needed to, but our guys made some gutsy plays out there. It wasn’t beautiful volleyball but we got it done. It was definitely an emotional win for us tonight and you have to hand it to MAC they played well.”
The combination of McMaster being inspired by their home crowd and playing at the top of their game with the Spartans being totally off of their game almost resulted in the Marauders pulling off the historic upset. McMaster would have been the first eight seed to knock-off a number one Canada West team in the history of the CIS men’s volleyball championship. The only other time that a number eight seed has beaten a number one seed was when Dalhousie defeated Laval 3-2 in the 1999-2000 season and no other number one seed has needed five sets to advance.
TWU holds the highest winning percentage in CIS championship history at .800.
Already trailing by two sets, the top-seeded and Canada West champion Spartans were behind 16-13 at the second technical break in the third stanza before rallying to force a fourth frame, and were neck-in-neck at 22 all in the fourth before they were able to force a fifth and decisive stanza.
The Spartans advance to Saturday's second national semi-final at 8 p.m. where they will meet arch-rival, the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears in a rematch of last year's CIS final. Trinity Western stunned Alberta 3-0 in the 2006 gold-medal game to capture its first-ever Tantramar Trophy.
Host McMaster, now 0-6 lifetime in CIS quarter-final match-ups, will face No. 5 Dalhousie at 3 p.m. on the consolation side of the draw.
Player-of-the-game honours went to Steve Rogalsky (Maple Ridge, B.C.), who led Trinity Western with 20 kills and 10 digs, and Nathan Groenveld (Welland, Ont.), who had a 15-kill, two-block effort for McMaster.
With a boisterous crowd behind them, the Marauders took an early 8 - 6 lead and extended it to 14 - 11 thanks to solid blocking and tough serving. The defending champions rallied and took their first lead of the game when CIS Player of the Year Josh Howatson (Victoria) put down a huge kill from the middle and sent the game into the second technical timeout. MAC gave up another point but, Nate Groenveld answered back, pummeling two quick kills to the floor tying the game at 17 - 17. After conceding another point MAC Coach Dave Preston called a time out. Following the timeout, defensive specialist Jon Krawec (St. Catharines, Ont.) entered the game and provided a bit of solidarity for the Marauder serve receive. The Spartans extended their lead to 21 - 18 when Groenveld struck again. Coach Preston continued to switch up his players, sending Sean Panchal (Mississauga, Ont.) and Jeremy Groenveld into the game. The move paid off immediately with Panchal setting up Jeremy Groenveld for the easy kill. Panchal then set Adam Schulz (St. Catharines, Ont.) who brought MAC within one, 22 - 21. The Marauders proceeded to tie the game at 23 - 23, at which point Trinity Western called timeout. It didn't seem to help as Jeremy Groenveld put down a huge kill and the Spartans Aaron Doornenbal (Edmonton) hit the ball out of bounds. MAC took the first set 25 - 23.
Once again, the Marauders started strong, leading the set 4 - 2 after a Nate Groenveld quick attack, and two wide open Dan Smedley (Woodbridge, Ont.) kills from the back row. A Spartan block and tough serve from Howatson tied the game at 4 - 4. With a 7 - 6 lead, Smedley made a huge solo block of Jeff Stel (Langley, B.C.) that sent the game into the first technical timeout with the Marauders leading an 8 - 6 lead. The Spartans went right back to Stel following the timeout but Smedley didn't have to do any work this time as the Trinity Western player put the ball into the net. Another Doornenbal serving error and block from Nate Groenveld gave MAC a 12 - 8 lead. Schulz added to the Marauder lead with two huge kills from the right side, sending the game into the second technical timeout at 16 - 12 in favour of McMaster. Hudson went to work quickly after the break, setting Bench up for a quick attack and the 17 - 13 lead. Smedley followed up the Bench kill with one of his own, splitting Howatson and Stel. Trinity Western rallied back and tied the game at 23 - 23. The Marauders went to Smedley who was blocked the first time, but not the second. Preston pulled Hudson out again for Jeremy Groenveld, leaving no setter on the floor. Nathan Groenveld did a great job setting when called upon, and MAC took the set 27 - 25.
Trailing 2 - 0, the Trinity Western Spartans changed tactics, using an injured Clayton Peters in the middle, allowing Howatson to return to his preferred setter position. “Both Doug and Clayton have been recovering and Clayton has been ready to go for a bit, but we have been playing well so we didn’t rush him back, but Clayton did some really good things out there tonight and Doug’s emotional presence was just huge for us,” said TWU Head Coach Ron Pike. “In this situation there is a ton of pressure and I feel for some of the young guys. But the reality of it is that at that point in the match we had to put our most experienced line-up on the floor and we were going to have to dig tremendously deep to pull it off. Fortunately for us the experience came through.”
The strategy worked as Trinity Western took an early 5 - 2 lead. Bench would bring the Marauders back to within one, trailing 7 - 6. A tough Bench serve would prove problematic for TWU and tie the game at 7 - 7. MAC continued their strong play, taking an 11 - 8 lead after Smedley hit TWU's Libero Mark Lindemulder (Calgary) in the face. Bench continued his strong play, blocking Steve Rogalsky (Maple Ridge, B.C.), widely considered the strongest player in the CIS. Trailing 16 - 13 after the timeout, TWU climbed back in the game with Stel's kill tying the game at 18 - 18. The Spartans continued to roll, taking a 23 - 20 lead after blocking Schulz. MAC was unable to stop the TWU attack, with Stel putting the set away 25 - 23.
MAC took the momentum early in the fourth set, looking to close out the Canada West Champions leading 8 - 5 at the technical timeout thanks to Smedley's line shot around the block. With both teams tied at 11 - 11, Parrish Offer (Kingston, Ont.) made an unbelievable dig and Bench assisted on two blocks to take a 14 - 11 lead. Trinity Western once again rallied, tying the game 16 - 16 and took the lead 17 - 16 after Smedley put the ball off the antenna. Ryan Hudson (Winnipeg) made a huge one handed dig that led to a Schulz kill and an 18 - 17 lead. The Marauders would force a TWU timeout after Bench put down another ball through the middle. TWU finally made their presence known in the middle with the game tied at 22 - 22, making two straight blocks. The Spartans would force a fifth and final set with a block of Schulz and the 26 - 24 wins.
Set five started with a Spartans service error and a huge Marauder block from Smedley and Nathan Groenveld, providing MAC with a 2 - 0 lead. The Spartans came back big, blocking Offer twice and Smedley once to take a 5 - 2 lead. TWU would continue to lead, 8 - 6 heading into the switch. A kill from Seth Schalk (Red Deer, Alta.) gave TWU an 11 - 8 lead, with Howatson's block sealing the victory 15 - 9 and 3 - 2.
Rogalsky led all players with 20 kills while team-mate Stel had 18. On the Marauders side Smedley and Nate Groenveld each had 16 kills. McMaster's Josh Nederveen (Dundas, Ont.) played outstanding with a game high 12 digs.
Trinity Western Spartans
Points: Steve Rogalsky (21), Jeffrey Stel (19)
Kills: Steve Rogalsky (20), Jeff Stel (18)
Blocks: Josh Howatson (2)
Digs: Steve Rogalsky (10)
Assists: Josh Howatson (29), Chaim Schalk (27)
Player of the Game: Steve Rogalsky
Points: Dan Smedley (18), Nate Groenveld (18)
Kills: Dan Smedley (16), Nate Groenveld (15)
Blocks: Parrish Offer (2), Nate Groenveld (2)
Digs: Josh Nederveen (12)
Assists: Ryan Hudson (43)
Player of the Game: Nate Groenveld
SEEDING, SCHEDULE & RESULTS (all times ET)
1. Trinity Western Spartans (Canada West champions)
2. UBC Thunderbirds (Canada West finalists)
3. Winnipeg Wesmen (Canada West bronze medalists)
4. Alberta Golden Bears (Canada West semi-finalists)
5. Dalhousie Tigers (AUS champions)
6. Laval Rouge et Or (QSSF champions)
7. Queen?s Golden Gaels (OUA champions)
8. McMaster Marauders (OUA finalists)
Friday, March 2
Quarter-final #1: No. 2 UBC 3, No. 7 Queen?s 0 (25-23, 25-16, 25-14)
Quarter-final #2: No. 3 Winnipeg 3, No. 6 Laval 1 (25-20, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22)
Quarter-final #3: No. 4 Alberta 3, No. 5 Dalhousie 1 (25-22, 20-25, 25-19, 25-18)
Quarter-final #4: No. 1 Trinity Western 3, No. 8 McMaster 2 (23-25, 25-27, 25-23, 26-24, 15-9)
Saturday, March 3
13:00 Consolation #1: No. 7 Queen?s vs. No. 6 Laval
15:00 Consolation #2: No. 8 McMaster vs.No. 5 Dalhousie
18:00 Semi-final #1: No. 3 Winnipeg vs. No. 2 UBC
20:00 Semi-final #2: No. 4 Alberta vs. No. 1 Trinity Western
Sunday, March 4
10:30 5th place
12:30 Bronze medal
15:30 Championship final (live on The Score)
-contributions from CIS