When the Spartans descend upon Hamilton this weekend, they will look to continue an impressive stretch of volleyball-playing dominance in recent years, as an historic run sees TWU come to McMaster University having played in each of the last six national finals and with eyes on capturing a seventh national title in program history.
Coming off a Canada West silver medal – a result that pushed TWU’s streak of playing in the conference final to 11 straight seasons – TWU looks to continue its run of success at the U SPORTS Championship, which has seen the Spartans capture gold three times (2016, 2017, 2019) and silver three times (2015, 2018, 2022) since 2014.
This year will mark the fifth time the Spartans have travelled to Hamilton to play in the national tournament and will look to garner similar success to previous trips, with TWU having won two gold medals (2006 and 2016), one silver medal (2018) and a bronze medal (2007) at McMaster University’s Burridge Gym.
The Spartans open U SPORTS Championship with a quarter-final match against Montreal on Friday at 8 p.m. (ET). All games will be streamed LIVE for FREE on the CBC Sports YouTube Channel.
2023 U SPORTS Championship Seeding
1. Alberta Golden Bears (CW champions: 22-2 regular season, 5-0 playoffs)
2. McMaster Marauders (OUA champions: 18-2, 3-0)
3. Trinity Western Spartans (CW finalists: 18-6, 4-1)
4. Sherbrooke Vert & Or (RSEQ champions: 15-1, 4-0)
5. Windsor Lancers (OUA finalists: 15-5, 2-1)
6. Montréal Carabins (RSEQ finalists: 11-5, 2-2)
7. Saskatchewan Huskies (CW bronze medallists: 17-7, 3-3)
8. Toronto Varsity Blues (OUA bronze medallists: 13-7, 2-1)
All four quarterfinals will be played on Friday, as follows (all times Eastern):
1 p.m.: No. 8 Toronto vs. No. 1 Alberta
3 p.m.: No. 5 Windsor vs. No. 4 Sherbrooke
6 p.m.: No. 7 Saskatchewan vs. No. 2 McMaster
8 p.m.: No. 6 Montréal vs. No. 3 Trinity Western
Consolation games will take place on Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m., with the semifinals set for 6 and 8 p.m. While normal U SPORTS practice indicates that the first two quarterfinal winners would meet in the first semifinal, should McMaster win on Friday, their order of the semifinals will be switched, giving the Marauders the 6 p.m. game while Friday afternoon’s winners would play at 8 p.m.
On Sunday, the fifth-place game is set for noon, with the bronze medal game following at 2 p.m. and the championship game at 6 p.m.
Tickets for the event are currently on sale at usports.ca.
All 11 games from the eight-team competition will be webcast live on CBC Sports digital platforms (English) and USPORTS.ca (French), up to and including Sunday’s gold medal game.
HOW WE GOT HERE
Under interim co-head coaches Adam Schriemer and Ben Ball, the Spartans posted an 18-6 regular season record. After capping the season with wins in seven of their last eight games, the Spartans earned series sweeps of Brandon, in the quarter-finals, and Calgary, in the semifinals to lock up a spot in both the Canada West final and the national tournament. In the final, the Spartans lost a four-set match against Alberta, which snapped TWU’s impressive 13-match winning streak in Canada West playoff action, dating back to a Feb. 28, 2020 (vs. Brandon in Game 2 of the CW semifinals).
The Spartans enter the U SPORTS Championships with a 26-9 overall record in 2022-23, which includes a 4-2 preseason record and a 4-1 record in the CW playoffs.
As a team, the Spartans averaged 18.75 points per set throughout the regular season (2nd in CW), while earning 2.36 aces per set (2nd in CW), 9.52 digs per set (2nd in CW), 14.06 kills per set (2nd in CW), 2.33 blocks per set (3rd in CW) and a .323 hitting percentage (3rd in CW).
Canada West First Team All-Star Brodie Hofer led the Spartans statistically, with 0.67 aces per set (2nd in CW), 3.63 kills per set (5th in CW), 4.45 points per set (5th in CW) and a .392 hitting percentage (3rd in CW). Fellow First Team All-Star Jesse Elser also put up significant numbers, earning a .366 hitting percentage (4th in CW) while averaging 0.40 aces per set (7th in CW) and a team-leading 1.67 digs per set (10th in CW).
The Spartans led the way in Canada West on the all-star ballot, earning a conference-best three all-star nods plus an all-rookie honour. Hofer and Elser were named First Team All-Stars, while Jesse’s younger brother Mathias Elser, who played both setter and outside hitter this season, was named a Second Team All-Star. First-year Anslem Rein (Erfurt, Germany) was placed on the CW All-Rookie Team.
Since joining U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans men’s volleyball program has captured six national championships and a total 13 U SPORTS medals, including five silver medals and two bronze medals. In TWU’s 15 appearances at the national tournament, the Spartans have medalled in all but two tournaments.
Amongst teams who will be competing in the 2023 U SPORTS Championship, the Spartans own an overall record of 13-6 in games played at the national tournament, including a record of 6-0 against McMaster, 1-0 against both Windsor and Sherbrooke, 1-1 against Saskatchewan and 4-5 against Alberta. TWU has never faced Toronto or Montreal at the national championship tournament.
This article is shared as part of our Fair Dealing Policy. For the original article, please visit: https://gospartans.ca/news/2023/3/15/mens-volleyball-u-sports-championship-preview-no-3-twu-opens-against-montreal.aspx
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