The top seeded Trinity Western Spartans earned a 3-1 quarter-final win over the Windsor Lancers to advance at the TELUS 2018 U SPORTS Men’s Volleyball Championship hosted by McMaster University.
Trinity Western will battle McMaster Saturday in a semifinal set for 6:00 p.m. ET / 3:00 p.m. PT, while UBC will meet Alberta in all-Canada West semifinal rematch at 8:00 pm. The consolation bracket will kick off the day’s activities with Queen’s facing UBC at 1:00 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. PT followed by Montreal playing Windsor at 3:00 p.m. ET / 12:00 p.m. PT.
Pearson Eshenko was a perfect nine for nine in attacks, adding two and a half blocks for 11 points, and coming away with Player of the Match honours for the Spartans. Leading the way for Trinity Western was Jacob Kern, who had 16.5 points with a game high 14 kills. Jesse Elser also added 16 points on 13 kills and three aces.
Trinity Western’s Carter Bergen was the match’s top defensive player, contributing 12 digs in the win for the Spartans.
Brad Gyemi was the Lancers’ leading-scorer, recording 12.5 points. Roland Bouchard was Player of the Match, tallying 10.5 points with a .429 kill percentage on 21 attacks.
The Spartans started the opening set slowly, falling behind the Lancers 7-3. That deficit, and a .203 attack percentage in the first set, led to a 25-22 defeat to the Lancers out of the gate.
Trinity Western’s head coach Ben Josephson attributed the opening set loss to nervousness but credited the Lancers’ play as well.
“I hope we got the jitters out,” said Josephson. “Also, the quarter-final when you’re a one or two seed is the worst game. We had massive scrutiny and massive expectations to beat the eight seed, even though that’s the best eight seed I’ve ever seen.
Eshenko echoed his coache’s comments.
They were tricky. We kind of knew coming in, you can watch as much video as you want, but at the end of the day, it's what you get. I think after the first set, we just kind of calmed our nerves down and communicated and things started falling in our favour.
Trinity Western regrouped in the second set and came out blazing, racing to an 8-3 lead that held as the set progressed, pushing to 21-15 before the Spartans closed out comfortably at 25-18.
Jacob Kern had five kills in the set to power Trinity Western’s resurgent offensive attack.
The third and fourth set were much of the same, with the Spartans surging to early leads and the Lancers staying within striking distance but never truly threatening. The final two set scores were 25-18 and 25-20 in favour of the Spartans.
Trinity Western improved their kill percentage to .416 to close the game.
Although Windsor was in tough, drawing the top seed in the opening match, Lancers head coach James Gravelle was positive about the game’s outcome.
“Nothing but proud of our entire program,” said Gravelle. “Every one of the players, coaching staff, everyone associated with our team for the process-oriented thinking, and we were able to stay with them very well today. We still have tomorrow to finish this out.”
Players of the Game
- Trinity Western: Pearson Eshenko
- Windsor: Roland Bouchard