By Randy Lewis
The men’s volleyball Dinosaurs came into this season looking to improve their fifth-place finish in last year’s national championships, and they appear well on their way to doing just that. By winning nine of their first 10 regular season matches, they served notice to the entire CIAU that they are a force to be reckoned with come March.
Simply put, this is the most talented team in the Canada West conference, if not the entire nation. The team is led offensively by fifth-year right side Bill Byma, former Kazakhstan national junior team member Denis Zhukov and setter Lee Czernick. Defensively, liberos Scott Lahey and Cory Paddock led the way. The Dinos show no noticeable flaws in their game.
When the Dinos play as a cohesive unit, they are virtually unstoppable. However, when they attempt to do too much as individuals, as seen last weekend against the University of Alberta, the Dinos are not nearly as dominating. Byma, Wes Montgomery and Mark Ellingson provide solid leadership that translates into a more mature attitude on the court than in previous years.
Aside from one loss in Edmonton, the Dinos are perfect this season, leading the Canada West with a 9-1 record, dropping only eight games in 10 matches. They are ranked second in the nation, behind Manitoba. Those numbers, along with an impressive Dino Cup championship, show the Dinos’ season thus far has been nothing short of spectacular.
Look for more of the same in the second half of the season from the men’s volleyball team. With eight of their 12 remaining matches to take place in the cozy confines of the Jack Simpson Gymnasium, the Dinos should have no problem remaining among the top five teams in the country. With continued teamwork and a little bit of luck, the Dinos will finally exorcise the demons of past years and be crowned National Champions at the University of Laval on March 4.
Food this team reminds me of: Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce. This team packs a powerful punch that leaves the opposition with their eyes watering, begging for the painful burning to go away.