Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack have secured themselves a place in the championship final of the 2015 McDonalds/WolfPack International men’s volleyball tournament.
The ‘Pack won their second straight match in the four team round robin tourney on Saturday (Jan 3) with a straight set win over Budo International of Japan. The scores at the Tournament Capital Centre were 25-18,25-19,25-20.
Budo falls to 0 and 2 to sit alongside the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat. The other team in the tournament: Trinity Western University Spartans are unbeaten as well after two starts.
“I think the Asian teams typically don’t go away and play hard,” said WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly. ” They hustle on defense. It is good for our guys. We struggle to finish off matches in fifth sets this year—twice against UBC and against Alberta—where we were in command but then started looking around. Japan raised the intensity and we matched it. It was good volleyball.”
The WolfPack were led by Casey Knight (fifth year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island, BC) with 11 kills in 27 chances with three service aces, three digs and six block assists.
Jordan Foot (second year, middle, Prince George, BC0 had nine kills in 10 swings with two digs and eight block assists.
Stuart Richey (fifth year, outside hitter, Gibson’s, BC) had seven kills in 17 opportunities with nine digs and two block assists. He was named the player of the match.
Hennelly sat CIS player of the year Brad Gunter (fourth year, outside hitter, Courtenay, BC). ” We wanted to watch how many jumps Brad gets (as he returns from injury). It provided an opportunity for guys to fill the void. I am glad we got the win with Casey and Stu and Randy (Grundmann, second year, outside hitter, Winnipeg, MB) out there.”
Grundmann had six kills in 17 opportunities with five digs.
Graham Stoliker (fourth year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 22 assists while Tyler Pomietlarz (first year, setter, Kelowna, BC) added 13 assists.
Budo was led by Kotaro Ono with 11 kills in 35 swings. He had seven digs and two block assists. Konosuke Tachikawa had 23 assists.
In other matches on day two: Trinity Western beat Budo and UBCO both 3-1.
“We got to play two separate line ups today,” said Spartans head coach Ben Josephson. ” Passing, touch and hand contact are the three areas that are slow to come back after Christmas. We struggled in both matches. We are working through various aspects of Love and in this game the lesson was “Love is Patience”. That was the key in these matches. We need to be patient and the touch will come back.”
TRU and Trinity will meet to close out the round robin Sunday morning at 10 am and then meet for the gold medal at 6 pm.
Hennelly expects both squads to have two different line up combinations. “It’s the time of year to evaluate. We got a lot of guys playing time in the preseason. We played the UBCO bench on Friday night with our bench. Tomorrow will be the chance for them to test their metal against Trinity—who I suspect will do the same thing. Regardless we will video them in the first match for evaluation.”
It will be the first time the two teams have seen each other since the opening weekend of the Canada West season where Trinity swept TRU in Langley, BC.
“I am excited to see both Brad and Casey on the floor together as an opponent,” says Josephson. ” I have seen them on tape but it will make TRU a formidable opponent. They have a lot of other guys who are talented—Grundmann, Stu Richey on the outside and two liberos and a middle. They are a pretty scary team now that they are healthy.”
UBCO and Budo will also play twice on Sunday—at noon in round robin and at 4 pm for the bronze medal.
SIDE OUTS: The WolfPack women’s volleyball team was busy on Friday and Saturday as they hosted the Capilano University Blues (PACWEST) for a pair of exhibition matches. The Blues are coached by former WolfPack women’s head coach Cal Wohlford.