Dinos turn WolfPack into puppies

By Courtenay Adams

Determined to stamp their season of growth and improvement with an emphatic exclamation mark, the men’s volleyball team stormed the Jack Simpson Gym this weekend and dismantled the Thompson Rivers WolfPack with sweeps both Friday (25-19, 25-15, 25-22) and Saturday (25-22, 25-14, 25-23).

This ensured second-place in the Canada West conference and the privilege of home court advantage for a post-season series.

Going into the weekend against the WolfPack, ranked third in the conference, the Dinos expected to encounter a veritable challenge.

Dinos’ libero Tom Porta noted that his team had already defeated the WolfPack in pre-season play, and as a result, they anticipated that TRU would reformulate for the two teams’ final matches and arrive at the Jack eager for revenge.

“We beat them every game, but we never took them lightly,” Porta said of their prior engagement. “They may have had a little grudge over that. We knew that coming in so we wanted to push them harder. We showed up, they didn’t. I didn’t really expect them to just roll over like that because they’re a good team.”

Dinos head coach Rod Durrant offered his own perspective on the weekend’s big blowout.

“They’re a good team, but they’re banged up,” Durrant said in reference to an epidemic of injuries weakening TRU’s starting line up. “They were bronze medalists last year and they’re going to be tough to play in the playoffs. We’re pleased to get out of here with two wins.”

Right side Omar Langford was in fine form, earning 34 kills over the weekend, while Andrew Tallas continued to be a strong overall player with 13 digs and 17 kills. Though serving was at times inconsistent, five players (Ciaran McGovern, Chris Hoag, Oleg Podporin, Blake Giles and Tallas) managed to confound the opposing team with well-placed service aces.

With the Dinos’ regular season wrapped up, the team is finally willing to express some views on their upcoming journey in February. Six teams in Canada West still have a weekend bout of matches, meaning the Dinos won’t know their first opponent until Monday.

“Whatever team we draw, it’s going to be a battle and it’s going to be tough for us,” Durrant commented, adding that the team plans to focus on the basics during practice so as to be ready for any challenger.

Regardless of the outcome of the playoff draw, the team has a widespread sense of pride in their efforts so far this season.

In his first year with the Dinos, Porta said that team support helped him improve and find a level of comfort on the court in competing against Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s high-calibre clubs.

“First semester, I got my feet wet and now it’s been steady,” Porta said. “I have a lot more confidence now. We know each other. For my first year, going 13-5 and being in second place . . . it’s pretty good.”

Durrant agreed that the ability of the Dinos to act unselfish is what makes them special and has been their guiding light on the road to improvement.

“We’re all working together and that’s what makes it so rewarding,” said Durrant. “Everyone is so unselfish and very supportive of each other. Guys that have been here for two years that haven’t dressed at all this year are up cheering. They come to practice every Monday and work hard. That’s what you make a good team with and that’s what I want to keep building this program on . . . a basis of hard work and being supportive, being a part of the team. It makes it fun.”

The Dinos will practice hard and keep each other motivated to continue their success through the post-season.

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