By Carly McKay
When two teams are evenly matched, the result is nearly always a fiercely contested, edge-of-your-seat thriller. When these two teams happen to be occupying the bottom two spots in the conference standings, the games may not draw a spectacular number of fans, but the product is no less entertaining. The Dinos men’s volleyball team found themselves in this very situation Nov. 26-27 as they traveled to Kamloops to face the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack. The outcome was indeed exciting.
Saturday’s match saw the basement-dwelling WolfPack narrowly edge the Dinos in the first set by a score of 26-24. Early service errors cost the Calgary squad not just the first set, but the second as well, 25-20. The team rallied in the third, with strong play at the net and improved defensive coverage, handing the home team a 17-25 defeat.
Unfortunately, the Dinos couldn’t quite hold their momentum through the fourth set, dropping the match with a heartbreaking 25-23 loss. Eric von Engelbrechten, the Dinos’ perennial kill leader, again set the pace with 17 kills and Cam Forster recorded the most digs with nine.
Hoping to regain their narrow lead over the WolfPack in the standings, the Dinos took to the court Sunday with revenge on their minds. The first set opened the match with a decisive Dinos victory; they pounded the home team 25-16. The beating continued through the second with a 25-19 win. But the squad from Kamloops fought back hard in the third, squeaking out a 24-26 upset.
With the re-emergence of middle hitter Blake Adair, who chipped in 10 kills in the match, the Dinos were able to regain their form and cruise to a 25-16 decision. With that, the Dinos picked up their first win of the season, improving their record to 1-7. The match was also one of the most cohesive for the team–Rob Ellis contributed 10 digs, von Engelbrechten recorded 12 kills and Ryan Lenz put on a show-stopping performance with 12 kills, two service aces and 18 digs.
“Ryan Lenz was very good,” commented Head Coach Greg Ryan, “and Blake Adair has emerged in his fourth year as a leader. He has to be given a great deal of credit for his positive change and the effect that it has had on the team.”
The Dinos return home to round out the pre-Christmas portion of their season against the Brandon University Bobcats Dec. 2-3. Games both begin at 8 p.m. in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium.