Dinos left scrambling for playoff spot

By Courtenay Adams

The men’s volleysaurs headed out east to the University of Winnipeg to take on the Wesmen, a team in contention for the top spot of the Canada West Conference rankings this past weekend. Though the Dinos were not victorious in either of the back-to-back matches on Fri. and Sat., their fight to the bitter end was no less than impressive. The weekend saw small victories for the visiting team, including winning one set in each match. For Fri. and Sat. night, the final scores were 25-18, 24-26, 25-21, 25-18 and 25-16, 25-15, 18-25, 25-23, respectively.

Though the losses complicate the Dinos’ chances of making it into the playoffs, head coach Rod Durrant was insistent that his team would not back down from the challenge. This coming weekend will find the men’s team in Kamloops battling against the Thompson Rivers University Wolf Pack in the final two matches of the regular season. Their goal is to feed off of the intensity their situation brings, as only a victory will ensure the team’s berth in post-season competition.

“For me and for our guys, it’s been a playoff game for the past four weekends,” coach Durrant noted of the team’s current mindset. “[That’s how we] approach every weekend and [this weekend] we need to approach it the same way. We control where we end up. We’re not sitting back hoping somebody else beats somebody else. We need to go in there and look after our side of the net.”

AJ Halverson, a first-year player who took on the position of libero­–a defensive specialist–for the weekend also remained optimistic about his team’s abilities. Citing their small victories in winning two sets over the weekend against one of the best teams in the country as indicative of their potential, he noted that his team’s strengths would be further enhanced by emotion-driven play and smart moves on the court. Those assets would assist in maintaining the confidence necessary to win.

“We started off slow both nights, but then we also showed [in] two sets how we could play,” Halverson said. “[Unfortunately], we also showed how if we don’t bring intensity and we let the other team get into our heads, we can be weak. We have to really focus on our side. It’s a tough thing to do, but to build confidence is a kind of snowball affect. They get lower and lower after we get higher and higher.”

The Dinos closing out a set in Sat. night’s match via a 7-1 run illustrates Halverson’s point. Furthermore, the loss of the match did not overshadow the exceptional play by some of the team’s talents, as Omar Langford and Oleg Podporin led the game in kills and Andrew Tallas registered an impressive 19 defensive digs. Coach Durrant was also eager to emphasize the young team’s future potential, noting that Halverson himself displayed increasing confidence and skill in the libero position as the weekend progressed.

Looking to the future, the Dinos are fortunate in that they have no problem playing their final two regular season matches on the road, a boon in light of the importance of the matches. Durrant commented on the cohesiveness of the team on the road as distractions like family and girlfriends do not tend to compromise the cohesive routine of the team. He also noted the infancy of the Wolf Pack’s gym.

“It is on the road but it’s still like a neutral site,” he said. “They’ve only played five or six weekends in this new gym. It’s not a confined gym like their old gym. While we’ve never played there. They haven’t played there a lot either. Honestly, I think that being on the road will help us stay more focused.”

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