By Carly McKay
The early parts of the season have not been kind to the Dinos men’s volleyball team. They’ve faced the number-one seeded Trinity Western University Spartans, the defending league champion University of Alberta Golden Bears and tested the waters with newcomers to the Canada West conference, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the Brandon University Bobcats.
“We knew the start of the season would be difficult since we were on the road against some very highly-ranked teams,” admitted Head Coach Greg Ryan.
The Dinos completed their grueling run Dec. 2-3 when the Bobcats visited the Jack Simpson Gymnasium for the first time.
Friday’s match got off to a brilliant start as the Dinos cruised to a 25-19 first set win. They were able to take advantage of the Bobcats’ disorganization to score some timely points and the momentum carried them through the second set. They got up 22-14 late in the set and Blake Adair nonchalantly fired three straight service aces past the statue-esque Brandon back-court to finalize the victory.
The third was slightly more competitive. The Bobcats seemed to regain some composure, but the home team was having none of that, finishing the sweep with a 25-19 win.
Stephen Gotch led the Dinos with nine kills and eight digs while Adair served up six aces on the match.
Going into the second day of a double header with a chance for a weekend sweep was new territory for the Dinos this season and the team was hoping to capitalize on the Bobcats’ inexperience. The visitors, however, brought their ‘A’ game on Saturday.
The first set was fiercely contested, with Brandon narrowly edging Calgary 26-24. The Dinos rebounded in the second to win 26-28, followed by a rather decisive 12-25 decision in the third. Just as it looked like the Dinos were in control, the wheels fell off and the team watched the victory slip away with back-to-back Bobcat wins (25-20, 15-13). Despite the loss, several Dinos managed to put up some good numbers. Eric von Engelbrechten and Ryan Lenz both registered 13 kills, while Gotch tallied 12 digs.
The Christmas break gives the Dinos a chance to get healthy before launching into the must-win portion of the season. A flu accompanied by a lung infection–which made the rounds of those oh-so-sanitary residence rooms–has decimated the team’s starting lineup. Five players have been battling illness for a couple of weeks. Greg Ryan acknowledges that the key to success is getting his team back in one piece, but his players have been giving it a valiant effort in the meantime.
“I am very proud of the rest of the team as they have continued to work hard,” he says.
The Dinos return to action Jan. 7-8 as they host the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. The games begin at 2 p.m. both days in the Jack.