This year’s edition of the Dinos men’s volleyball team was a reconstruction project, and thus suffered the predictable slumps associated with rebuilding. Veteran leadership began to show itself on the court, with Rob Ellis posting an even 100 digs on the season, Blake Adair notching 18 service aces, and Eric von Engelbrechten’s 145 kills and 3.22 points per game average placing him ninth in Canada West points standings. The newbies on the roster also demonstrated solid potential, with Stephen Gotch ranking 18th in the conference with 2.75 ppg and setter Tim Smith coming up with 170 clutch assists in a backup role.
Battling injury and illness all season, the guys found themselves trailing early in most games, but still managed to steal a few key points against even the toughest opponents. The starting six often boasted more rookies than vets and yet the team hung in there against playoff-bound opponents. It’s a testament to the grit of the new players that the team got through the season at all, much less posted four victories.
Head coach Greg Ryan was left shaking his head this time around. Perhaps the team wasn’t responding to his methods, perhaps he couldn’t rally his troops in such a short timeframe, or perhaps the volleyball gods simply decided that Ryan was persona-non-grata. Whatever the case, there was an obvious barrier between the coaching staff and the players. With a winning history, Ryan’s qualifications speak volumes, but for some reason this season just didn’t click.
The highlight of the season was the team’s domination of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack, against whom the Dinos posted three of their four victories. The fact that this was the WolfPack’s first year in CIS competition notwithstanding, it still proved that the Dinos could bring their “A” game and trash some mountain division competition.
Overall grade: D
Animal: Vulture. Fully capable of taking advantage of the weak, but unable to prey on something that isn’t already sick and dying.