Women’s Volleyball: T-Birds pose problems for perplexed Dinos

Though stumbling slightly during a road trip in B.C., the Dinos women’s volleyball squad held a good playoff position coming into the series against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds Feb. 2-3. Unfortunately, the Dinos’ poor play against the Trinity Western University Spartans Sat., Jan. 27 carried over to the home series against the T-Birds, as the Dinos were swept for the second time this season.

“What do you say when you get beat by those kind of scores?” said Dinos head coach Kevin Boyles after Saturday’s 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-14) loss. “We just weren’t playing. I wouldn’t say we gave up, we kept fighting. We weren’t making any plays. I really don’t have an answer for why.”

The Dinos had yet to be swept in three straight sets before Saturday’s embarrassing loss, a first the Dinos probably wanted to avoid.

“The last while we’ve been coming out flat at the beginning of the game,” said fifth-year Joanna Niemczewska. “I guess we didn’t learn our lesson. I’m hoping this will really kick us in the ass, because it’s exactly what happened on Saturday last week.”

Niemczewska, though reaching 20 kills in Friday’s game, was held to an attack percentage of just 5.2 per cent due to 17 attack errors. Saturday, Niemczewska was held to just nine kills and a percentage of -6.5 per cent, committing 11 errors.

Mistakes plagued all the Dinos Saturday, as they committed 10 serving errors and 30 attacking errors while the T-Birds committed three service errors and 13 attacking errors.

“We went to pieces; we were awful the entire weekend,” said Boyles. “The first set tonight we came out actually playing fairly well, but we missed seven serves. As opposed to winning it by four or five points, we lost it by two. From there it was just an uphill battle. We never did get our feet back under us again.”

The T-Birds kept the Dinos attack in check throughout the series. Saturday, the Dinos kill total plummeted as the match went on. In game one, the Dinos had 17, game two, 11, and game three, seven.

“It is frustrating when things aren’t going your way,” Niemczewska admitted. “Sometimes you’re just hoping to create a break for yourself. When they’re there all the time, it is frustrating, definitely.”

The T-Birds recorded 43 attack blocks, but Boyles was reluctant to give credit to the T-Birds blockers and more ready to blame the Dinos own passing.

“Our passing was dismal the whole weekend,” said Boyles. “When the ball isn’t up to the setter, you can’t get the offence going and it makes it pretty easy to key on our attackers and make the blocks. We need to pass a lot better and maybe hit the ball better.”

With the losses, the Dinos dropped from second in Canada West to fourth, and will need a sweep of the lowly 4-14 Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack Feb. 10-11 to guarantee a home playoff date. The Dinos need to correct their problems before they hit the elimination rounds, and the dates against the Wolfpack could do the trick. But with their play of late, nothing is guaranteed for the Dinos.

“I think we have next week to redeem ourselves,” said Niemczewska. “I think it’ll put us in a harder first round situation in Canada West. What can you do? All we can do now is fix whatever’s wrong and look forward to next weekend.”

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