DEFENDING CHAMPS PREPARE FOR SEMIFINAL AGAINST GAELS

Ben Josephson

DEFENDING CHAMPS PREPARE FOR SEMIFINAL AGAINST GAELS
By Benjamin Deans - The Journal - Queen's University - LINK to Story

KINGSTON, Ontario — The ARC set an attendance record when 1,802 fans watched the men’s volleyball team win a CIS national quarter-final on Friday night. But the crowd might be even bigger for tonight’s semifinal against the Trinity Western Spartans.

“You guys must be loving this,” Spartans head coach Ben Josephson said. “You get number one against the home team. This is the dream.”

After losing only one game all year, the Spartans are the number-one seed at nationals this weekend. They beat the eighth-seeded Dalhousie Tigers in straight sets in their quarter-final on Friday night. As defending national champions, they’re favourites against Queen’s — but Josephson won’t admit it.

“You’re not in the national semifinal if you’re not playing great volleyball … there are too many great teams in this country,” he said.

The Gaels are the fifth seed and current Ontario champions. Thanks to their quarter-final win over the Golden Bears, they’re in the CIS final four for the first time in coach Brenda Willis’ 25-year career.

Over the Christmas break, the Gaels travelled to Langley, B.C. for two exhibition games against Trinity Western. The Spartans won 3-0 and 3-2, but the largest margin of any set was only six points.

Trinity Western, founded in 1962, is Canada’s largest Christian university. Their volleyball team follows a Complete Champion Approach (CCA). From the Spartans’ website:

“Spartan athletics is defined by our strong cornerstone of Spiritual Development. From the foundation of Spiritual Development flows the other four aspects of the CCA and fruitful Godly athletes who persevere towards excellence.”

The Spartans’ men’s volleyball team only joined the CIS in 1999, but have since made six national tournament appearances and have won two national gold medals.

In October, they travelled to Qatar for the Club World Championship, where they went 1-2. On Thursday, fifth-year setter Ben Ball won the CISMVP award while outside hitter Rudy Verhoeff joined him as a CIS first-team all-star.

Alberta head coach Terry Danyluk said the Spartans remind him of the Golden Bears team that won back-to-back national championships in 2008 and 2009.

“We could go 10 or 12 guys deep and not have to worry about who was playing,” Danyluk said. “That’s the sort of team they have now — they’re physical, they have international experience and they’re fourth- and fifth-year guys.

“If Queen’s plays the way they did against us [on Friday], they’re not going to have enough to beat Trinity,” he said. “You need to be really good, really sharp against a team like them.”

Last Updated: 2012-03-07
Author: Mark Janzen