(ISN) Kamloops, BC—For the third time in the last three weeks, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat are set to square off in men’s volleyball.
The WolfPack and Heat will do battle tonight (Jan 15) in Kelowna and then return to Kamloops on Saturday (Jan 17) to square off on the Warner Rentals Court at the Tournament Capital Centre. Both those are Canada West matches. That was the site of two matches January 2-4 th as the Heat participated in the McDonald’s/TRU International Tournament. One was a scrimmage of bench players. The other was a 3-0 victory by the ‘Pack over the Heat in the tourney itself.
Going into this weekend, TRU has a record of 7-11 while UBCO is 6-12. “There is a certain danger of playing a team so close to having a league game,” said WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly about the recent flurry of showdowns. “They rounded out our tourney. It turned out to be a good experience for them as well as us. Essentially we know them quite well. We play them in the preseason and the regular season. There are a lot of BC guys on that team and both sides are familiar with one another. We are focusing on execution on our side of the court.”
The ‘Pack haven’t discounted themselves out as a possible Canada West playoff team. They know they mustn’t let up on the pressure in order to realize that goal. “We are trying to come out with intensity and a sense of purpose when we come out on the floor. That includes practice as well. I think they responded to that last weekend (a 3-0 and 3-1 sweep of MacEwan on the road). Our starting lineup didn’t drop a set. Our starting rotation is pretty experiences with a lot of fourth and fifth year guys. We have a veteran line up out there. I think the guys know what it’s all about. We don’t talk about it much anymore and just try and play. The hardest part now is staying in the moment and playing point to point and set to set. It is easy to look around to see what other teams are doing. But the reality is that we knew the second half of the season is something where we have to put some wins up to where we want to go. We still have a chance to make something happen here and we have to go through UBCO on the road to that goal.”
Hennelly feels that playing on a Thursday after playing a Saturday/Sunday series is a short turnaround. But his crew won’t have a problem with that. “We do a lot of heavy travelling and playing in the preseason. The crew we have starting right now is used to this situation. We have some players from Kelowna who will be hosting us for a meal that day (Thursday). That will give us a sense of comfort. There is a reason we lift in the mornings and go a little harder in training (two a days) in the preseason. It is for opportunities like this. We don’t want to make excuses. This is part and parcel for league play and I think this group will be ready to go.” The match on Saturday (Jan 17) will go at 6:45 pm. It will feature two of the team’s fifth year players— Matt Krueger (Abbotsford, BC) and Stuart Richey (Gibson’s, BC) being honored.
Both matches will be televised on CanadaWest.TV