By Carly McKay
“I’ve had better seasons,” Dinos men’s volleyball Head Coach Greg Ryan commented before his team’s final appearance at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, “but it’s part of the cycle.”
Indeed, as their female counterparts embark on yet another championship run, the Dinos men struggled to find their form down the home stretch, illustrating that having an extremely talented squad isn’t enough to ensure a playoff spot in the competitive Canada West division. Rounding out their rough season, the team finished with two straight losses to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Feb. 11-12.
Friday’s matinee opened with an easy set for the visiting T-Birds, as they cruised to an early lead and held on for a 25-17 finish. The second set concluded in similar fashion, but huge blocking by Brian Nelis and a couple of big kills from Cam Main showed a little spark in an otherwise uninspired 25-16 loss.
The third, and closest, set of the afternoon finally gave the fans something to cheer about, as the Dinos seemed to find some momentum. With more solid play from Main and a monster kill by Sean Kendal to take the home team up 20-19, it appeared as though they would force a fourth set.
Unfortunately, the T-Birds were able to scramble back and squeak out the win 25-23. Kendal was Calgary’s top attacker with seven kills, while setter Paul Albert topped the defensive stats with five digs.
Saturday’s outing proved that the Dinos would not go down without a fight. Although UBC took the first set 25-22, the second went in Calgary’s favour. Taking advantage of poor service reception in the T-Birds’ back court, they managed to go on several runs and with good passing, knocked off the visitors 25-17. Consistency became a problem in the third, however, allowing UBC’s attackers to take advantage of the gaps in the Dinos’ defense for a 25-14 victory. The big guns continued to find the floor in the fourth, leading the T-Birds to a 25-21 match clincher.
Despite the outcome, several Dinos recorded impressive numbers, including Glen Handley’s seven digs and 13 kills each for Eric von Engelbrechten and Tyler Fraser.
This weekend marked the last matches in Dinos colours for two veteran team members. Nik Fuess, who was unable to play for the duration of the season due to injury, was in his fifth-year of eligibility, as was stand-out middle hitter Sean Kendal. While both will be missed in next year’s lineup, look to Main and fellow rookie Greg Emslie to feature prominently in the future of the Dinos program. With an entire off-season to heal, the team is planning on a much stronger outing in the fall.
“You can’t plan for injuries,” Ryan said of this year, “but I thought they did a great job.”