Jan 04, 2015
Source: Larry Read, Thompson Rivers Sports Info / Photo credit Andrew Snucins
Kamloops, BC—For the second time in its history, the McDonalds International Men’s VolleybalL Tournament has been won by the host Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
The WolfPack downed the Trinity Western University Spartans 3-0 to capture the 2015 title at the Tournament Capital Centre on Sunday (Jan 4). The scores were 28-26,25-23,25-17.
The last time Thompson Rivers won the title was in 2012.
“We have to go into every game with the mentality that we have to win,” said Thompson Rivers head coach Pat Hennelly. “ I thought it was good. We have had so few matches with a full line up. We are a dangerous team when Casey (Knight, fifth year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island, BC) and Brad (Gunter, fourth year, outside hitter, Courtenay, BC) are both in the line up. That was the case today. Having Brandon (Hewwing ,fourth year, outside hitter, Calgary, AB) who was out with a stress fracture back in there gives us some stability. He is an older guy.”
“We were outplayed straight up,” stated Trinity Western head man Ben Josephson. “ Casey Knight was the difference. You know Brad can do what he does. When you can add secondary scoring from Casey. He led their team in kill and hit .300. When you can add a secondary scorer like that it makes a team dangerous. That is what TRU was missing all first semester. With them in the lineup, Stu Richey (fifth year, outside hitter, Gibsons, BC) becomes more valuable as a passer and manager. He is a really good defender. You could see that a healthy Casey makes them a much more dangerous team.”
Knight had 18 kills in 25 chances with five digs and a block assist.
Gunter finished with 16 kills in 27 swings with a service ace, nine digs, two solo blocks and a block assist.
Hewwing, who was named player of the game for TRU had five kills in 10 chances with three digs and a block assist.
“Casey was great,’ Hennelly stated. “ He made some blocks. He made some great serves. I told him at the beginning of the year that that only person stopping Casey Knight is Casey Knight. He is a force. He is 6’9” and left handed. He has great ball control for a guy his size. When he puts it all together he is a dangerous player. He takes the pressure off Brad. Last year, he emerged. Between injuries and not having a full line up, we have been waiting for Casey Knight to get back on track. He had a great weekend against UBC and against Brandon. If he and Brad are playing like that, we are a great team.”
Graham Stoliker (fourth year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 41 assists.
Trinity Western was led by Nicholas Del Bianco (fifth year, outside hitter, Langley, BC) with 12 kills in 27 chances. He added 10 kills. Adam Schriemer (second year, setter, Winnipeg, MB) had 27 assists.
“We got played in every position so there is lots to work on,’ Josephson added. “Nic (Del bianco) matched Brad for kills but not for passing which was surprising. Player for player we were out played.”
The question is though with the WolfPack returning to Canada West play next weekend at MacEwan, can they keep this momentum going as they literally have to ‘run the table’ in order to secure a playoff spot?. “ We talked about this in December. Our foot has to stay on the gas all the way through. We are in a playoff drive. We have a little more sense of urgency than Trinity Western. They should be in the top four in the league and deserve to be there. They are looking at a home date. We are in a fight for our lives. We are in a different mind set right now. We have to be. If we run out of gas when we make the playoffs so be it. But we have to play like crazy to make it. “
Josephson looks ahead to the Canada West schedule like this: “ We have some of the weaker teams—MacEwan and Regina—up first. Then its gets heavy with UBC, Sask and Winnipeg to finish. If we can play .500 ball we should we in the playoffs.
”The WolfPack visit MacEwan in Edmonton, Alberta next weekend (Jan 9-10) while Trinity is at home to Regina. Next TRU home match is set for Friday, January 16 th against the UBCO Heat.
SIDE OUTS: UBCO went home to Kelowna, BC after their final round robin match because of weather conditions. That left Budo International (Japan) to face a squad of Trinity Western reserves in the bronze medal match. Trinity won that in four (25-15,22-25,25-21,25-14). Carter Bergen (first year, libero, Winnipeg, MB) had 14 kills in 26 chances with six digs, a solo block and a block assist for the Spartans. Riley Vander Meulen (first year, outside hitter, Edmonton, AB) had 10 kills in 20 chances with Jerome Cross (first year, outside hitter, Burnaby, BC) adding 49 assists.
Kotaro Ono had 14 kills in 29 swings for Buto. Konosuke Tachikawa had 20 assists.
Hennelly on whether the WolfPack are the 2014-15 version of the Brandon University Bobcats—who snuck into the Canada West post season for two years. “ Brandon has done that twice where they had shaky first halfs and came through. We talked about it –the one year we were in Brandon and lost two five setters. If we would have won one or both they would have been out of the playoffs. They beat us and went on to win the silver medal at the CIS Championships that year. We know we have the capability. The danger is looking ahead. We have to go point for point. This weekend is over. Now we have to regroup and put a solid week of practice in before going to MacEwan.”