By Ryan Laverty
Thurs., Oct. 19 marks the opening of the 10th annual Husky Dino Cup, and like the nine before it, this promises to be another entertaining tournament. This year the Dinos welcome back the University of California at Los Angeles Bruins, as well as the University of the Pacific Tigers and our provincial rivals, the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
The Jack Simpson Gymnasium will once again be the site of one of the premier intercollegiate volleyball competitions on the continent. UCLA are the reigning National Collegiate Athletic Association champions, but five of their top six players were seniors last year and won’t be returning. They will be composed mostly of juniors and sophomores, but will still be a tough team to beat.
After a less than stellar fourth-place finish in last year’s Dino Cup, the UOP Tigers will return for a second crack. The Tigers are a fairly well balanced team with three returning seniors and six fresh new faces on their squad.
The Bears are making their first appearance in the fall classic since 1992. Coming off a 14-8 season in 1999, the Bears will be looking forward to starting the season off right. With the Canada West Conference as tight as it is Head Coach Terry Danyluk will be looking for his team to really pick it up this season. Danyluk has attempted to change the attitude of his team by changing its look. He made way for a lot of new faces by cutting a few returnees. This weekend, like the rest of the year, Danyluk will look to their Quebec import, Pascal Cardinal, to carry the bulk of the load. Cardinal was second in the country in kills last year, and with the departure of veterans Richard Schick and Murray Grapentine, he will need to continue his current play in order to ensure the Bears are competitive.
The hometown Dinos have four returning starters from last year’s 13 -9 season, namely Bill Byma and Denis Zhukov. The void left by the departure of All-Canadian setter Jeremy Wilcox will be filled by Lee Czernick, a recent transfer from Mount Royal College.
"It’s been a terrific group to be around. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a team that’s been able to get along so well so quickly," remarked Dinos’ Head Coach Greg Ryan. "The older players have been great and I think we’ve really gelled well."
The Dinos will look to regain their place above the pack at this year’s tournament. The last time they won was 1998 in a stunning display over UCLA. The matches will run from Thursday until Sunday and all will be played at the Jack Simpson Gym. So if you’re a big time volleyball fan, or even if you’ve never heard of the game, come out this weekend. You’ll be guaranteed some fierce competition and wild entertainment.