(ISN) – Kamloops, BC—It’s a situation that the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball is getting used to. The WolfPack enter another weekend of play in the Canada West with their playoff lives hanging in the balance.
Pat Hennelly and his crew will play their final home matches of the 2014-15 campaign on Friday and Saturday (Jan 23-24) at the Tournament Capital Centre against the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars. Game times both days are 2 pm on the Warner Rentals Court.
The Cougars and WolfPack both have nine victories. Thompson Rivers has played two more matches (9-11).
The ‘Pack are the second hottest team in the Canada West going into the weekend as they have won their last four starts.
“I think it is going to be a very close weekend with Mount Royal,” says Hennelly. “We need to win this weekend just to keep pace. Mount Royal has matches left with UBCO and Alberta after our weekend. We have one more weekend against Saskatchewan. Looking at the standings it is hard to say what the final number of victories needed to get into the playoffs will be but I think it will be 12 or 13 at least.”
Hennelly likes the way his team has played the last while. “We have been in the ‘must win’ mentality even before Christmas. The team has responded well starting with our tournament and I hope we can continue to keep up the focus and intensity.”
The WolfPack have been aided in their quest for a second straight post season berth by the fact that they have a healthy Brad Gunter (fourth year, outside hitter, Courtenay, BC), Casey Knight (fifth year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island, BC) and Brandon Hewwing (four year, outside hitter/middle, Calgary, AB).
“The one benefit of all the injuries we have had in the first half is we do have a lot of guys ready to play,” Hennelly explains. “We did mix up the lineup against UBCO and the guys responded. It is nice to see some depth and the ability to put different players on the floor. We are going to need depth to achieve a playoff spot and be successful in the playoffs.”
Gunter, the CIS Player of the Year leads the Canada West in kills per set at 4.65 after missing most of the first half of the season.
The Cougars have two players among the top in the Canada West statistically. Jordan Or (fifth year, libero, Burnaby, BC) is third in digs per set (2.33) while Grigor Kartev (fourth year, middle, Calais, France) is fifth in blocks per set (1.13).
Hennelly doesn’t mince words when he says this could be the biggest weekend of the year. ” It is going to be a great weekend. If either team sweeps, they will still be in the mix to secure a spot. Mount Royal can make it if they lose this weekend but we do not have that luxury.”
Both matches will be shown on CanadaWest.TV
The WolfPack will honor Knight and fellow fifth year player Blake Majcher (libero, Brandon, MB) before their final home match on Saturday (Jan 24). The team paid tribute to their other fifth year players—Matt Krueger (libero, Abbotsford, BC) and Stuart Richey (outside hitter, Robert’s Creek, BC) last weekend.