It was pretty much a given that the Dinos men’s volleyball team would beat the University of Regina Cougars last weekend. All that really needed to be determined was by how much.
The Dinos took nine of 10 games from the Cougars, winning 4-1 on Friday and 5-0 on Saturday. The two wins, coupled with a University of Alberta loss to Trinity Western University, pushed the Dinos into second place in the Canada West conference. Not bad for a team that wasn’t even assured of a playoff berth a week ago.
"It was a pressure packed weekend," coach Greg Ryan pointed out. "If we stumble, we don’t make the playoffs. They’re a pretty good team, but we should beat them, but we were playing in their gym."
To close out Friday’s match, the Dinos crushed the Cougars by an unheard of 25-9 score. Ryan attributed the blowout to his three top players.
"The cause of that phenomenal score was the best show of spike serving I’ve seen in a while," he said. "Jeremy Wilcox, Denis Zhukov and Bill Byma were rocking the ball. They didn’t let the other team get in at all."
On Wednesday, Wilcox was named as a Canada West first-team all-star while Byma and Zhukov were named to the second team. (Zhukov probably could have taken the rookie of the year award as well, but, at 27, was deemed too old.)
"I think that’s like the gravy on potatoes. The real nutrition comes from the potatoes. I think they’d say it’s more important to make the playoffs and to go to nationals than to be an all-star."
As the playoffs approach, the Dinos will expect superior performances from their all-stars, but they will also be looking for starter David Sol to step up. Sol hasn’t exactly been playing poorly this year, but he could have been better. Not that his struggles have been his fault. Sol has been ill, and the antibiotics he was prescribed didn’t help. As it turned out, he was allergic to the antibiotics.
"No wonder he was out of sorts," said Ryan.
A new prescription should bring Sol back to starting form.
The Dinos host the University of Alberta Golden Bears this weekend in the first round of the playoffs. The winner of the best-of-three series will advance to the Canada West final against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
"Alberta’s a pretty balanced team," said Ryan. "They have a great outside hitter in [first-team all-star] Pascal Cardinal. The defining point in rally-point volleyball is whoever plays the steadiest, wins."
Ryan knows that his team has the talent to win the conference title (if not a national title), but needs to play consistently to get anywhere in the playoffs.
"It’s been the same all year long: if we play well, we’ll be fine. Other teams are good, but we have better balance."