The Dinos men's volleyball team went into the CIS volleyball championships last weekend as both defending champions and Canada West champions -- the toughest volleyball conference in Canada -- but they knew the road would be hard and that a lot of good teams had a shot at winning it. It was one such good team, the Trinity Western Spartans, that killed the Dinos dreams of a repeat in the semi-final before claiming the CIS title. The Dinos went on to the bronze medal match where they secured a third place finish.
The number one seeded Dinos faced the number eight seeded Sherbooke Vert et Or in the quarter-finals. The Dinos were dominant in the first set winning 25-12. Laval came back strong in the second set leading the Dinos for most of the set. The Dinos claimed their first lead of the set at 23-22 and went on to win it 26-24. The third set started close with the two teams trading 5-0 runs. It remained close until the Dinos went on a seven point streak eventually winning the set 25-18 and the match 3-0.
"We were in control," said Dinos men's volleyball head coach Rod Durrant. "We played very well against Sherbrooke. We weren't at our best, but we got the wins three straight."
Middle Graham Vigrass had 13 kills and a 0.545 attack percentage that night.
The Dinos then moved onto the semifinal where they had a much tougher match up against the hometown Trinity Western University Spartans. The Dinos faced the Spartans in the 2010 CIS final eventually beating them 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 23-25, 27-25).
"The guys played very well at times," said Durrant. "The semifinal was extremely difficult with 2,000 Trinity Western fans, but was a great enivronment. Tremendous effort by our guys to go five and we had no regrets."
The Spartans and Dinos went back and forth in the match trading scores as they switched sides. The Spartans thrashed the Dinos 25-17 in the first set. The Dinos replied in the second set by beating the Spartans 18-25.
The same would happen in the third and fourth set. The Spartans took the third set 25-23 and the Dinos took the fourth 20-25 forcing a do-or-die fifth set. The Dinos and Spartans stayed even until it was 5-4. After this the Spartans built up a lead to make it 9-4 then 13-8. The Spartans polished off the set 15-9 to win the match 3-2 and advance to the final, ending the Dinos' title defence in the process.
"It's just two great teams playing and that's what it should be at the national championships in semifinals which is always a difficult match," said Durrant. "Unfortunately we came up short in the fifth set. We played well, they played a little bit better."
The Dinos found themselves in the bronze medal match the next day against the Laval Rouge et Or. The Dinos dropped the first set 20-25, but fought back to win the second set 25-22. The Dinos would again find themselves down at the end of the third set losing 19-25. The Dinos led early in the fourth set and were up 8-3 at the first break, but let their lead get away from them. Laval had it tied up at 22-22. Calgary edged Laval to take the set 27-25 forcing a fifth set, which the Dinos took 18-16 giving them the 3-2 win and third place.
"That game was a bit of a grind," said Durrant. "Both teams I think struggled. That's kind of in a match where you're a little bit down because of the result of the night before. I don't think we did play our best, but we just hung in there and did not give up."
The Spartans went on to defeat the Brandon Bobcats 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 27-25) in the final.
Vigrass was named CIS player of the year. This is the 13th consecutive year that a CW player has received the award. Vigrass was also named to the first all-Canadian team.
The Dinos finished their season with a 16-2 conference record and as CW champions.