By Carly McKay
While most students were relishing the last few hours of their winter break, the Dinos men’s volleyball team was picking up their season right where they left off before final exams. Unfortunately, where they left off was a tailspin that saw the team’s record fall to 2-8 in Canada West conference play.
Saturday, Jan. 7 marked their opening match of 2006 as the Dinos played host to the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds. As the top-ranked team in their division, UBC posed a great challenge to the home side. Although there were hopes that the team could start the year off with some positive progress, the Dinos seemed to fall victim to the same old habits that plagued them in the early parts of the season.
With a dismal kill percentage and difficulties blocking, the Dinos dropped the match in three straight sets (25-15, 25-19, 25-21). Stephen Gotch led the team with eight kills and five digs while Blake Adair chipped in three service aces in the losing cause.
“Saturday was bad,” summarized veteran power hitter Rob Ellis. “We didn’t play very well. On Sunday we decided to start playing.”
The scores on Sunday did reflect an improvement in the team’s overall play, as they took the first set 22-25 before coming up just short in the next three (25-20, 27-25, 25-16). Adair put in another strong performance, pacing the Dinos with 11 kills and two service aces while Ellis posted six digs in a noticeably better defensive effort from the whole squad.
“It’s a matter of execution,” Ellis explained. “It’s a process. We have to learn how to execute, instead of just doing it.”
At this point, getting back to basics and focusing on what the team does well is likely the only course of action the Dinos can employ as their record of 2-10 does not bode well for the finish they had hoped for. Yet, in a rebuilding phase for the program there are always positives.
Newbies Taylor Fuchs and Mark Henderson cracked the lineup for the Dinos over the weekend. Both performed well in tough situations. The return of setter Paul Albert may also bring a spark to the team as they head into next week’s match-up with the University of Alberta Golden Bears Jan. 13-14.
The Dinos travel north to test their luck on Friday the 13th in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.