Last weekend, the Dinos had a glorious opportunity to earn a couple of weeks of rest and recuperation before hosting the Canada West conference championship. Unfortunately, those dreams were snuffed out in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium when the University of Alberta Golden Bears swept the weekend series, relegating the Dinos to third-place in the conference.
The Dinos dug themselves into a hole in Friday night's match by losing the first two sets, but gained some momentum in the third set which they won 25-20. However, that momentum was short-lived, as the U of A put the Dinos away for good winning the fourth set 25-23.
Bill Byma led the home side with an amazing 26 kills on the night to go along with six defensive digs. Pascal Cardinal paced the Golden Bears with 15 kills and 10 digs in the victory.
The Bears continued their hot play on Saturday evening and, despite a solid defensive outing by Mark Ellingson who had 10 digs, the visitors swept three straight sets away from the Dinos ending the U of C's quest for a first-round bye.
Considering the overall strength of the Canada West conference this season, it came as no surprise that the final weekend decided the playoff placement of the top three teams. While the Dinos and Golden Bears battled here Friday night, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies were busy handing volleyball juggernaut the University of Manitoba Bisons their first loss of the regular season, enabling the Huskies to finish in first place and host the conference championship.
Leading the conference at the Christmas break with a 9-1 record, the Dinos suffered various injuries in addition to a vigorous second half road schedule. This combination caused Calgary to struggle during January and February losing critical matches to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and this past weekend to
The Dinos have a chance for retribution this weekend when they travel to Edmonton for a rematch against the Golden Bears. The winner of the best-of-three series earns the right to battle Saskatchewan for the conference championship while the loser must hope for a wildcard berth into the national championships at the beginning of March.
The Bears had the Dinos' number this season winning four of five matches between the two squads. However, there is hope--the Dinos lone win came on the Bears' home court in November.
The series begins at the U of A campus on Friday night, with game two on Saturday night and if necessary, game three on Sunday.