Since the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union adopted the rally-point system for scoring volleyball, luck has become a major part of the sport. When two of the nation’s top four teams play, chance becomes a deciding factor.
The Dinos men’s volleyball team visited Winnipeg last weekend to play the University of Manitoba Bisons in a inter-conference match between two teams that will likely appear at the CIAU tournament in March. The Bisons won 3-2 on both days, using fortune to their advantage.
"Luck makes a difference," said Dinos coach Greg Ryan. "We beat them in every category except score."
The Dinos aren’t a mistake-prone team, but in losing three of their last four matches, they’ve allowed their mistakes to get the best of them.
"Every match that we’ve lost on the road has been because of two or three errors at the wrong point in time," explained Ryan. "Against Saskatchewan [two weeks ago], in the first match we lost, we were up 23-21 and we made three errors in a row. Against Manitoba in the second match, they were up 23-22. We were ready to tie and we made three errors in a row. You can’t do that."
The Bisons are nothing if not a volleyball power, so the Dinos aren’t embarrassed in losing to them, although they’d be happier with a win.
"When you’re playing in someone else’s barn, when it’s rally-point and when they’re the third-ranked team and you’re the fourth-ranked team, and you lose 3-2, there’s no shame, but we still should be beating them."
The Dinos were led on Friday by Ben Johnson’s 14 kills, followed by Wes Montgomery’s 12 and Tom Kelly’s 10. On Saturday, Bill Byma topped the Dinos with 14, while Montgomery had 12 again and Denis Zhukov added 10. Warren Henschel had 11 digs to lead the offense each day, and Jeremy Wilcox had three service aces in each match.
The University of Alberta Golden Bears are in town this weekend in an all-important Canada West matchup. Ryan has a simple plan for dominating the two-game series.
"We have to reduce our errors and play hard all the way through."
The Bears are another highly ranked team, but the Dinos are used to playing the best.
"It’s always that way in this conference. You have the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta all in the top five–that’s just the way the conference is."