Kamloops, BC-The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack are getting pretty familiar playing five set volleyball.
For the second straight match, the WolfPack went the distance. On this night (Fri, Jan 15) TRU downed the visiting University of Saskatchewan Huskies 3-2. The scores were 29-27,14-25,25-18,19-25,15-12. TRU moves to 7-8 on the season while Saskatchewan falls to 6-9.
“At the end of the day a win is a win and we will take it any way we can get it,” said WolfPack head coach Chad Grimm. “ On both sides it was not clean volleyball. I am sure Mark (Huskies coach Dodds) would probably agree. The first four sets were 16-10 for somebody. It was a real roller coaster ride as the match went. Coming out on the right side is always nice.”
“Another good Canada West battle,” stated Dodds. “Unfortunately we came out on the short end. It was a good match overall. We missed 22 serves in this match. We definitely have to clean that up a bit. This is a very unique venue (Warner Rentals Court at the Tournament Capital Centre). It takes a little bit to get used to. Hopefully with a practice tomorrow morning we can clean that aspect up.”
Dodds joked that he didn’t know what the magic of serving well at the TCC was but if someone knew they should give him a phone call.
“This gym is different than any other one in the Canada West,” he added. “ I don’t know what the magic equation is for getting a team to serve well here. A little thing like the lights and height can change the outcome of a match. That certainly was the case for us.”
The WolfPack were led by Iuliia Pakhomenko (4th year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) with 16 kills in 47 chances with a service ace, 12 digs and three block assists.
Alyssa Wolf (5th year, libero, South Surrey, BC) had 10 digs. Katie Woo (4th year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 36 assists, three service aces, eight digs and two block assists.
Alina Sophizuk was named the TRU Bookstore/McDonalds “Leader of the Pack” Player of the match. “I think Alina showed up with some good energy and came up with some key digs and was a catalyst for us.” She had eight kills in 31 opportunities, a service ace, 16 digs and one block assist.
Saskatchewan had two players in double digit kills: Taylor Annalla (1st year, outside hitter, Dinsmore, SK) had 18 kills in 47 swings with four service aces, eight digs and a block assist. Emmalyn Copping (4th year, left side, Calgary, AB) had 11 kills in 33 chances with a service ace, 16 digs and a block assist.
Jina Barker (5th year, setter, Moose Jaw, SK) had 37 assists with nine digs and four block assists.
“We had a bunch of players who played well tonight,” Dodd said. “Our setter played very well tonight. Both of our middle blockers did a really good job. Pakhomenko is very tough to stop and both of our middles had their hands full. Taylor had her best match of the season so far. That was great to see. Hopefully, tomorrow we can come out with a little better effort.”
Grimm liked the way his team didn’t go away when they were down. “We finally showed some energy and played some volleyball in the fifth set which is obviously important. Both sides were a little tentative especially from the service line when the match was close. Both were squeezing the ball a bit and trying not to lose the game. Hopefully we can learn from that and come out tomorrow and put on a bit nicer of a performance.”
He felt both sides kept thinking about the playoff implications of this weekend. “Absolutely that was what it is. Sometimes people don’t want to come out and say it but these are two teams without a lot of playoff experience in recent memory. Everybody knows what the standings are. Even though we try to work on what we control and not worry about the other team and standings but these athletes put in a lot of time. Sometimes those thoughts creep in.”
The two teams will square off again Saturday (Jan 16) at the Tournament Capital Centre. Game time is 5 pm.