Not in our house

By Paul Haavardsrud

Game 1 – UCLA 15 / Dinos 7

"Dinos Fall to Bruins in Cup Final"

The headlines were set.

"The University of Calgary Dinosaurs dropped three straight to the visitors from the University of California Los Angeles, to wrap up the 12th annual Husky Dino Cup International Volleyball tournament. In the finals of a tournament boasting the defending national champions of two countries, the visiting Bruins proved too strong for the host team. The golden boys from L.A. cruised through the three-set final en route to an easy victory over the outmatched Dinosaurs."

The leads were written.

Game 2 – UCLA 15 / Dinos 3

"UCLA is a special team. They have experience, talent, as well as several players who are earmarked for the national team," came the words from Larry McKay, head coach of defending national champion the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.

The crowd, 3,468 strong, the largest ever for a Dinos event, shifted uncomfortably. Shoulders slumped. Eyes wandered to watches. Feet shuffled to doors.

Game 3 – UCLA up 12-8

The television coverage stopped.

A smattering of "Go-Dinos-Go’ bounced heartlessly around the gym. Appreciated. Transparent. Obligatory.

"This is a very special team," reiterated McKay.

There is talk of Canada being on a par with American schools when it comes to volleyball. The faithful, proud of their homeland, clutch these words to their breast and want to believe. The rest look at 3,468 in Jack Simpson versus 103,468 in Pasadena and know the truth.

Our boys did well to get to the finals. This was expected.

"Volleyball is all ebb and flow. For the last couple of years American schools have been really strong, but I’ve been involved in Canadian programs that have swept American schools out of the gym," continued McKay, kindly trying to ease the sting of the inevitable.

One game.

"UCLA loves this. They’d like nothing better than to humiliate the U of C," stated McKay regretfully.

If we could just win one game, to salvage pride, to save hope for the 3,468 on hand.

"They want to show their dominance," he concluded.

One game would be enough.

Game 3 – Tied 14-14

"UCLA is a special team."

Bill Byma, Jeremy Wilcox, Warren Henschel, Adrian Wouts, David Sol and the rest of the Dinos know McKay’s words are true. In game three they were not quite ready to accept them.

Game 3 – Dinos 17 / UCLA 15

"Kevin Boyles and Randy Gingera gave the boys the what for and they responded," explained Dinos Head Coach Greg Ryan.

In the stands, backs straightened. Hands came together. Heads began to nod. Slowly. Slightly. Affirmatively.

"The first two games there was an air of complacency. We challenged them, got in their face, told them it was time to wake up," added assistant coaches and former national team members Boyles and Gingera.

Bill Byma and David Sol heard the bell clearly. Blocks came together. Digs went up. Kills down. The team followed.

The blank stares on the faces of the red and white turned more animated with each point. Fists pumped, voices grew hoarse, eyes gained determination. Volleyball is a game of momentum, Coach McKay said ebb and flow.

The tide turned.

Game 4 – Dinos 15 / UCLA 12

The crowd wanted to believe, but the echoes remained.

"This is a special team."

"They had a lot of doubt about how good they could be," continued Boyles.

Game five, rally point, money time. The trash between probable future national team setters Jeremy Wilcox and Brandon Taliaferro increased.

"He thinks he’s good," noted Wilcox shaking his head. "I don’t think it’s appropriate to tell you what I told him I think of him."

Game 5 – Dinos 8 / UCLA 7, teams switch sides.

Play resumed and the crowd knew for certain the Dinos had resurrected themselves from the dead of an 0-2 abyss. To the players the crowd no longer mattered.

UCLA no longer mattered.

Nothing mattered, except that someone had come into their house and told them to lie down.

No sir.

Not today.

Not ever.

Game 5 – Dinos 15 / UCLA 11

Every now and then sport yields special moments that allow a glimpse of what life should be. On Saturday, the Dinos gave 3,468 the glimpse.

"They’re on the verge of greatness," ended Boyles.

Co-captain Mark Ellingson hoisted the championship cup in the air and nodded his head. Everyone who has ever been counted out, dismissed or written off nodded back in thanks.

The crowd roared its appreciation.

"This is a special team."

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