A team of Langley men’s volleyball players are returning home after seven-days of back-to-back play that earned them a silver on the international stage.
Trinity Western University’s Spartans men’s team represented Canada at the Pan-American Cup in the Santo Domingo this past week, defeating the host team from Dominican Republic 3-1 in the semifinals but falling 3-0 to Mexico in Thursday’s finale.
Leaving with a 5-2 record, Canada’s placement in this year’s tournament stands as their third silver medal, and the country’s first top-three finish since 2016, said head coach Ben Josephson.
“The final didn’t go the way we wanted it to. Mexico came in on a hot streak – beating the U.S.A. 3-0 – then doing the same to us goes to show how well they were playing over the final stretch of the tournament,” Josephson elaborated.
With each set (17-25, 24-26, 20-25) being closely contested by the Canadians, Mexico continued their run of good form after defeating the U.S.A. in the semifinals.
Jesse Elser (Calgary) and Langley’s own Brodie Hofer led the charge for the Spartans, scoring a combined 36 points between the pair of outside hitters. Howe also put together an impressive defensive performance in the middle, totalling a game-high four blocks in the final match of the tournament.
“Mexico put us under constant pressure and our defence wasn’t good enough to keep up. We were the top-rated service receiving team in the tournament heading into this game, but they kept coming at us with tough serves. They played really well today,” Josephson shared.
“We got to look ourselves in the mirror today. This is a great lesson to learn this early in the year and how painful it is to lose in a final when you don’t play your very best volleyball,” the coach said.
“Although the pain of that lesson right now sucks. Having that lesson at the outset of the season – that’s the greatest gift we ever could get. Losing a match with the Maple Leaf on your shirt just feels different. I know we represented Canada well and I know we played hard and we played together, but anytime you lose when your national flag is on your shirt means a lot more. We are Team Canada and we lost and that’s a big deal and that’s not lost on us as a team. We know the responsibility of defending the flag and playing well for Canada. We know that not winning that match means a lot to Canada and a lot to us and I think that’s where the frustration and pain comes from. I love this team and know how resilient they are and I can’t wait to see what they become over the next seven months before our next major final,” Josephson concluded.
Ultimately, Canada defeated Suriname 3-0 on day one, beat Mexico 3-1 on day two, similarly downed Puerto Rico 3-1 on day three and Dominican Republic 3-1 on day four before being defeated by the U.S. 2-3 on day five, securing their berth in the semis.
For tournament awards, Spartans Hofer and Elser were elected as first and second outside hitters for the tournament, while countrymen Jackson Howe (Calgary), Derek Epp (Saskatoon) and Colton Loewen (Aldergrove) made the all-star team as first middle blocker, best setter and best receiver, respectively.
With the silver medal in hand, the Spartans will be heading back to Langley in preparation for their season-opener on Nov. 5.