QUEBEC -- The two-time defending-champion Trinity Western Spartans were emilinated from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men's volleyball championship in dramatic fashion Friday, giving up a two-set lead in a quarter-final loss to the University of Western Ontario Mustangs.
The seventh-ranked Mustangs gave the favoured Spartans all they could handle in the first two sets before rallying for a hard-fought 26-28, 23-25, 31-29, 27-25, 15-9 win.
The win means a team from the Ontario University Athletics conference will reach the CIS final for the first time since 1991. Western will face McMaster in the semifinals Saturday after the Marauders cruised to a three-set win over the Universty of New Brunswick earlier.
"It was a little stressful," said Mustangs coach Jim Sage. "Each set was a battle and it was fun.
"We talked about this, our motto for today was 'all day.' Even down 0-2, we were going to continue. That's when the momentum started to switch and my guys started to believe in themselves a little more, and they got it."
The match turned in the pivotal third set, where saved five match points before extending the duel with a 31-29 win.
The Spartans saved three set points in the fourth, but finally fell 27-25 as the teams prepared for a fifth set.
With the Mustangs ahead 8-6 in the decisive set, they scored four consecutive points to put pressure on Trinity Western. The Mustangs was able to hold on to their lead, winning the set 15-9.
Justin Scapinello, who had 26 kills and 13 digs, was chosen player of the game for the Mustangs.
Lucas Van Berkel, with 19 kills and three digs, won the honour for the Spartans.
Earlier, third-seeded McMaster reached the semifinals with a 3-0 win over No. 6 UNB.
UNB was able to stay within reach of McMaster in the first set, but the OUA champions gave no chance to their opponents thereafter, winning by scores of 25-23, 25-17 and 25-14 in just over an hour.
"We settled into the match in the second set," McMaster coach Dave Preston said. "Since we were unfamiliar with the opponent, we were not really sure what the match was going to give us. Once we started to settle down, we stuck a bit more to what we do on a regular basis."
Middle Tyson Alexander, who had five kills and three digs, was named player of the game for the Marauders.
Outside hitter Marc White was named the Varsity Reds' top player with seven kills and six digs.
In other quarter-final action, No. 8 Montreal took on top-seed Brandon and No. 5 Laval faced No. 4 Alberta.