(ISN) – Kamloops, BC: What does a cat and the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team have in common? It could very well be that they have nine lives.
The WolfPack are on a run to a playoff spot in the Canada West. After winning their last four matches and facing a ‘lose and you are done scenario,’ the ‘Pack almost saw that run come to a screeching halt at the Tournament Capital Centre on Friday night (Jan 23).
Thompson Rivers was forced to battle back from three deficits including one in the fifth and final set to dispose of the visiting Mount Royal Cougars on the Warner Rentals Court. The scores in the 3-2 TRU decision were 25-17,15-25,18-25,25-21,13-15.
The WolfPack are now 10-11 on the year while the Royals fall to 9-10.
In the fifth set, Mount Royal led 7-3 and 8-4 before TRU mounted a comeback.
Head coach Pat Hennelly recounted what happened after he took a time out at 8-4. “Brad (Gunter, fourth year, outside hitter, Courtenay, BC) came up with some big blocks. Number 8 (Tyler Schmidt, first year, outside hitter, Calgary, AB) is a second year guy. Maybe some nerves got to him. He is going to be a great player but it was a prime time for Brad to get a block because it ignited us. We have some things to work on but we gave ourselves a chance to play tomorrow for a legitimate playoff spot.”
The WoflPack were led by the Gunter—the CIS Player of the Year—with 18 kills in 39 chances with two assists, four service aces, four digs, one solo block and one block assist.
Casey Knight (fifth year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island, BC) had 14 kills in 28 swings with two service aces, a solo block and a block assist.
Graham Stoliker (fourth year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 40 assists and 12 blocks.
Brandon Hewwing (Fourth year, outside/middle, Calgary, AB) had five kills in 13 chances with two service aces, and seven digs. He was named the TRU Bookstore/McDonalds “Leader of the Pack” player of the game.
Mount Royal was led by Jordan Parkin (fourth year, outside hitter, Calgary, AB) with 14 kills in 33 opportunities. He added two digs and a block assist. Schmidt had 13 kills in 28 swings with two service aces, five digs and two block assists.
The other Cougar player in double figures was Riley Friesen (second year, outside hitter, Calgary, AB) with 11 kills in 35 chances with eight digs and three block assists.
Samuel Brisbane (third year, setter, Brisbane, AUS) had 40 assists.
The two teams close out their weekend series on Saturday (Jan 24) at 2:45 pm at the Tournament Capital Centre. Before the match, the WolfPack will honor two of their fifth year players—Knight and Blake Majcher (libero, Brandon, MB).
SIDE OUTS: Hennelly says the wild ride to the post season is very reminiscent of his second year with the WolfPack program (2006-07). “We had a talented team. We lost a lot of games. We lost the home opener badly. We had a huge crowd, over 1200 people at the old TRU gym. We went into Regina and squeezed out a fifth setter. That happened in the first half. We wound up with only seven wins. We wound up battling Winnipeg and losing in three. This sort of reminds me of that. We under performed and had the mental side of the game overriding our physical ability. We talked about it at the end of last term. We have the skill now do we have the will. Tonight the will wasn’t there for the full game. This is very reminiscent of that second year. We make the hard stuff look easy and the easy stuff very difficult.”