QUEBEC CITY – The Trinity Western Spartans earned their third national title in four years at the 2019 U SPORTS Men's Volleyball Championship Presented by Hôtel Universel Québec, defeating the top-seeded Brandon Bobcats in three sets (25-23, 25-21, 25-19) on Sunday afternoon in Quebec City in front of 2,000 fans.
One of the most successful programs the nation has seen in years, Trinity Western captured its sixth Tantramar trophy since 2006. As for the Bobcats, their first national title will have to wait as they return home with silver, their best result since 2013.
For a third time in as many games in this tournament, outside hitter Eric Loeppky (Steinbach, Man.) was selected Player of the Game for Trinity Western with 11 kills and four aces.
Meanwhile Jacob Kern (Edmonton) led TWU with 14 kills while hitting .545. Setter Derek Epp (Saskatoon), who is in his first year as a starter with the Spartans since transferring from Saskatchewan, had 37 assists to guide an offence that hit .352. First-year Brodie Hofer (Langley, B.C.) also came to play, earning nine kills, including number of the highlight reel variety.
TWU finished the match with eight aces and 4.5 blocks.
Seth Friesen had 10 kills out of his team's 28, taking home Brandon's Player of the Game honours for a second time in the championship.
Brandon hit .197 as a team and had three aces and two blocks.
With the Spartans up by three, at 22-19, in the third set, a kill from Kern sparked what would turn out to be a national championship-winning 3-0 run, with Howe getting the next kill and Kern finishing the task with the final swing of the season.
In a rematch of the Canada West final, which the Bobcats won in five sets, the Spartans were all-world as the rolled to a convincing win to capture their sixth national championship title.
The win sees the Spartans win their third U SPORTS title in the last four years and fifth in the last nine years.
It was a sort of deja vu for the Spartans as the last time they met Brandon at the national tournament, it was TWU also beating the Bobcats in the final in three sets, when they won on home court in 2011.
Players of the Game
Trinity Western: Eric Loeppky
Brandon: Seth Friesen
Championship MVP: Eric Loeppky, Trinity Western
Championship All-Star Team
Cam Kern, Alberta
Alexandre Obomsawin, Laval
Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Vallalobos, Laval
Seth Friesen, Brandon
Robin Baghdady, Brandon
Jackson Howe, Trinity Western
George Hobern, Alberta
Eric Loeppky, Trinity Western
R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Vicente Ignacio Parraguirre Villalobos, Laval
Ben Josephson – TWU Head Coach
"Last year we lost in the final, and it stings worse than any other loss there is, so we weren't going to let another opportunity get away. It's so hard to get here, you want to make sure you play well. Last weekend, when we lost to Brandon, we didn't feel like we played our best ball and the team was just begging for another opportunity to play those guys and tonight they played fantastic."
Eric Loeppky – 3rd-Year Left Side
"I'm very happy. We let last year slip away. And coming in losing that Canada West banner last week, it just feels amazing to put in the work and get the result you wanted."
Grant Wilson – Brandon Head Coach
"Obviously not the result we were looking for. Hats off to Trinity (Western), they played great today. They put us under so much pressure with their serve. We played catch up all day and came close a couple times, but just couldn't get over the hump. It's a tremendous season for us. And to get back to the national championship, it was a rewarding accomplishment for our group."
• TWU has earned six national championships, winning in 2006, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017 and 2019.
• TWU is now 2-0 all-time against Brandon at the national tournament.
• The Spartans were playing in the national final for the 10th time, having made their first appearance in 2005.
• The Spartans have played in the U SPORTS final in eight of the last 10 years, winning five times.
• TWU has now earned U SPORTS medals in 12 of the last 16 years.
• Having entered U SPORTS in 1999, TWU trails only Manitoba (10), Alberta (8) and Winnipeg (7) for total national championships.
• A Canada West team has won the national title in 24 of the last 25 years. Laval, in 2012-13, is the lone team outside of Canada West to capture the U SPORTS title in the last quarter-century.
• In their three previous matches this season against the Bobcats – all of which were played in Brandon – the Spartans were 0-3, losing twice in the regular season (3-0 and 3-0) as well as in the Canada West championship, in five sets.
About Spartan Athletics
As official members of U SPORTS, the Spartans currently compete in 10 sports in the Canada West conference, including women's and men's soccer, volleyball, basketball, cross country and track & field. TWU also competes in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) in men's hockey. Since TWU entered U SPORTS in 1999, the Spartans have won 11 U SPORTS team championships and 25 Canada West team championships.