Men's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
Langley Events Centre, Langley, BC
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Langley, BC - An efficient Lucas Van Berkel, who was 13-15 from the attack, helped lead the Spartan attack to a quick 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-21) victory over the visiting UBC Okanagan Heat Saturday evening in men's volleyball.
While the Heat did out-block their opponents by an 8-7 margin, they struggled to slow the Spartan attack over the course of the three sets. Five Spartans (including Van Berkel) would finish the game with seven or more kills, leading to a .299 kill percentage for Trinity Western.
"We weren't as efficient in the middle tonight as we usually are," remarked Heat head coach Greg Poitras. "We had a tough time defending their middles."
The loss spoiled a solid performance from the duo of Nate Speijer (5th year, Penticton, BC) and Kyle Pankratz (3rd year, Surrey, BC), who combined for 26 kills for UBC Okanagan. However, behind Speijer and Pankratz, offense was hard to come by for the Heat, as all remaining offensive players were only able to combine for 10 kills.
The Heat's offensive woes were largely due in part to a tough serving display put on by the Spartans, which kept the Heat back-court on their heels for the majority of the match. Unable to get settled into the offense, the Heat offense became increasingly one-dimensional with over-reliance on the tip attempt to gain points, which was quickly identified by the Spartan defense.
The Heat looked strong in the opening frame, as they were first to reach the technical time-out at 16-15. Both teams would exchange points to reach 20-20, but unforced errors would hand Trinity the set, putting the Heat in an early hole.
"Statistically, we have made big strides over the past few games," added Poitras. "I thought we played well in this one, but a play or two per set was the difference."
The Heat would play close with the Spartans for the majority of the set, never surrendering more than a five point lead (which only occurred once in the match). However, the Heat struggled to string successive points together to dig themselves out of the deficits they had dug.
The win sees Canada West's top team improve to 15-1, with the Spartans showing no signs of slowing down. Meanwhile, UBC Okanagan retreats to 4-12 after 16 games played so far this season.
Trinity Western will make their way to Thompson Rivers next weekend, January 24th and 25th, to face the No. 4 WolfPack, while the Heat will return home to host the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears on Friday and Saturday as well.