The Dinos men’s volleyball team faced the University of Manitoba Bisons Jan. 11, coming on the heels of a straight-sets victory the night before. A despondent Dinos team dropped a 3–1 decision to the Bisons and looked disorganized for large stretches of the first two sets, losing them 25–20 and 25–19 respectively while racking up 16 errors, nearly equaling their total of 18 kills.
“We were very low energy to start the match and made too many errors,” said Dinos outside hitter Connor Frehlich. “Once you start making errors it’s hard to gain momentum.”
The Dinos did find some traction in the second half of the match, thanks to the efforts of fourth-year outside Darcy Froese, who managed six kills coming off the bench. “Darcy did a great job coming off the bench for us today,” said Frehlich. “He gave us a lot of energy.”
This energy was evident as a more inspired Dinos squad cruised to a 25–17 third-set victory. However the Dinos’s spark would come too late, as they would drop a hard fought fourth set 25–23. The loss drops the Dinos to 8–6 in Canada West conference play, enough for fifth place in a conference where the top seven teams advance to the playoffs.
In a normal year, the Canada West season and playoffs would be of supreme importance, as only the conference champion and runner-up would move on to compete for the national championship. This year however, the University of Calgary is hosting the Canadian Interuniversity Sport national men’s volleyball championship, awarding the Dinos an automatic berth regardless of their playoff fortunes. Some might view this as a source of extra pressure, but for the Dinos it comes as extra motivation. “It’s good to know you’ll be playing for a national championship. We are using the season as practice for that,” said Frehlich.
With all roads leading to the CIS tournament in late February, the Dinos will likely face more up and down weeks. While these could rattle a team, Frehlich sees no cause for alarm.
“We have lots of help with our ups and downs,” said Frehlich. “We have team meetings all the time, and we have David Paskevich to help us out with our sports psychology.”
The Dinos should be well equipped for the challenges that lie ahead but the bottom line is that a more consistent effort is needed if this team has aspirations of making noise in the CIS championships come February.