Men’s Volleyball: Dino Cup gold

The Husky Dino Cup glittered like fine gold for the Dinos men’s volleyball team, who earned the first place prize for the first time since 2000.

The Oct. 19-21 tournament featured stiff competition from National Collegiate Athletic Association opponents Stanford Cardinals and the Lewis University Flyers, and local-rivals the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

The Dinos were flawless in the preliminary games of the tournament. Three wins came from 3-2 set victories over the Cardinals and the Huskies, and a 3-1 victory over the tree-scraping Flyers. Their perfect 3-0 record guaranteed them a spot against the Huskies in Saturday’s final.

The irony that the Husky Dino Cup was contested between the Huskies and Dinos aside, the Dinos took a 1-0 lead with a 25-22 victory in the first set. Fourth-year transfer student Scott Price led the set with seven total kills, and was eventually named the game’s MVP and a tournament all-star.

“This is the first time I’ve played on a stage like this,” said Price.

The Huskies weren’t content to let the Dinos take the bite out of their bark and snapped back with a 25-20 set win, tying the match at one set apiece. The Dinos had troubles closing out teams earlier in the tournament–they had a two-set to zero lead against the Cardinals before allowing them to creep back and tie the match at 2-2–and weren’t about to let the gold slip away from them.

“The first few games we had chances to close teams out and we gave them life and ended up going to five games, when we had the chance to win it sooner,” said Price. “We need to have that killer instinct.”

The dogs started the third set with a 6-3 advantage before the Dinos clawed their way back to lead 15-10. The Dinos let the Huskies come within a single point before cruising to a 25-18 victory, and a 2-1 set advantage.

The fourth set found the opportunity for the Dinos to close out the set and come away with the gold, and they weren’t going to fail in front of a 1,400-strong crowd at the Jack.

The Huskies put up a fight, even holding the lead 15-13, but the Dinos went on a 12-2 run from there, sending the dogs back to their houses with the silver.

As the balls were returned to their bins the awards were doled out. The tournament MVP was earned by Glen Handley, Blake Adair won the U of C Alumni Spirit Award and Ryan Lenz joined Price as a tournament all-star. Price led the gold-medal match with 20 kills.

“Scotty had a great weekend,” said Durrant. “He’s a fourth-year guy, and he played like a fourth-year guy today. For us to be successful, he’s got to play that way.”

This Dino Cup victory is a good omen. The last time they won the Husky Dino Cup, in 2000, the Dinos went on to win Canada West and were Canadian Interuniversity Sport bronze medallists. But it’s a long season, and the Canada West Division is stacked with tough competition, not only the dogs but also the defending CIS champion Trinity Western Spartans.

“Absolutely I think it’s going to be difficult,” said Durrant. “There’re some good teams out there, and Saskatchewan is one of them. If we want to be in the playoffs, we have to beat teams like Saskatchewan.”

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