Spartans scratch out sweep of WolfPack

Led by Ryan Sclater, who had a match-high 14 kills, the Trinity Western University Spartans earned a 3-0 win over Thompson Rivers University Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops.

Scores in TWU’s gruelling sweep over the host WolfPack were 25-23, 25-23, and 26-24.

The Spartans remain the No. 2-ranked university men’s volleyball team in Canada.

The Spartans won each set by just two points as they escaped Kamloops with a road sweep of TRU and, in doing so, improved to 17-1 on the season.

The loss drops TRU to 11-7.

Hitting .310 as a team and with Sclater hitting .478 himself, the Spartans won their 10th match in a row and remained four games clear of second place UBC and Alberta in the Canada West standings.

With the win, the Spartans moved just one win away from clinching top spot in Canada West and the right to host the Final Four.

TWU would also clinch if UBC and Alberta both lose a match.

Saturday’s game took a turn in the Spartans’ direction late in the second set, when TRU’s Brad Gunter, who leads Canada West in both kills and points per set, was carried off the court with an injury.

Gunter didn’t return and TWU went on to win both the second and third sets.

Beyond Sclater, the Spartans were led by Nick Del Bianco, who had 12 kills and two aces, and Branden Schmidt, who had a match-high six blocks to go with three kills.

Setter Adam Schriemer had 28 assists along with two aces, a match-high nine digs, and three blocks.

Despite leaving the game in the second set, Gunter led the TRU with 10 kills while Casey Knight added nine kills. Stuart Richey had a match-high three aces while setter Colin Carson had 29 assists and a team-high six digs.

“The good news is we that we swept a quality opponent on the road,” said Spartans coach Ben Josephson. “The bad news is we performed well below the standard needed to play at this time of year. Usually when that happens, you have to give credit to your opponents. They were scrappy and tough and greasy. They made it hard on us and I don’t think we responded appropriately in our focus on details. We were sloppy in our touches and we were tentative emotionally.

Josephson said the Spartans received an inspired performance from Sclater, adding that went Gunter went down, “that kind of swung the whole match in our favour.”

“While we got out of here with a 3-0 win, we have a lot of things to clean up,” Josephson said.

The Spartans hit .474 in the first set, but TRU hung with the Spartans from start to finish. With the score tied 23-23, TWU got a kill from Brad Kufske and then a block from Schmidt and Schriemer to win the set.

In the second set, with the score knotted 22-22, a kill from Sclater sparked a 3-1 TWU run that gave the visitors the set. After a TRU attack error, the Spartans had two cracks at game point and on their second attempt, Lucas Van Berkel slammed the winning kill.

Like the first two sets, the third set was close from the outset to the final point. With the score tied 24-24, Sclater once again set the table for a win as he gave TWU its second chance at match point up 25-24. A block from Van Berkel and Kufske sealed the win.

The Spartans are back on the road this weekend when they visit nationally No. 7-ranked Brandon Friday and Saturday.

Spartans win in four

In a battle of the top two offences in Canada West, the Spartans rallied for a four-set win over the WolfPack Friday at the Tournament Capital Centre.

After dropping the first set 25-22, the Spartans eked out a win in the second set before controlling the play for much of both the third and fourth sets.

TWU was led by Del Bianco, who had 17 kills and four blocks while hitting .438. Brad Kufske added 15 kills with no errors on 30 attempts as he hit .500 and also collected four blocks.

Daniel Grant, who was slotted into the lineup to replace Schmidt for Friday’s match, had a career-high seven blocks.

Schriemer had 35 assists and a team-high 10 digs.

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