Kamloops, BC—It was a ‘win/lose” situation for the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball team on Saturday night.
The WolfPack dropped their final Canada West regular season match 3-1 to the visiting Trinity Western University Spartans. The scores at the TRU gym were 25-23, 25-18, 17-25,25-21.
Thompson Rivers finishes the regular season at 12-12 while the Spartans move to 19-3. Despite the loss, The WolfPack solidified their second ever Canada West post season berth. That is because while TRU split this weekend with Trinity, the Calgary Dinos lost both of their matches with the Alberta Pandas.
TRU will be making its first post season berth since 2011-12. That year, they lost in the quarterfinals to Alberta.
“It was important that we showed some fight on back to back nights,” stated TRU head coach Chad Grimm despite the loss. “We need that to be successful.”
Grimm said the split to earn the post season berth is a testament to how far his group has come in the short two years he has taken over the program. “We can compete with anyone in the country. It is nice to know heading into the playoffs that we can do that. It will be exciting for everyone.”
TRU was led again by Krista Hogewoning (5th year, outside hitter, Delta, BC). She made her final CIS regular season match one to remember with 13 kills in 27 chances along with a service ace, eight digs and two block assists.
Brianne Rauch (4th year, outside hitter, Kimberley, BC) was 10 for 22 with seven digs and a service ace. It was her final regular season match as it was for Katie Woo (4th year, setter, Surrey, BC) and Alyssa Wolf (5th year, libero, South Surrey, BC). Woo had 31 assists, six service aces eight digs and two block assists while Wolf had 11 digs.
Grimm praised all four for their play: “They were a big part of tonight but also the entire season. They we consummate professionals. They went out and did their job. The leadership they are providing helped the development of others in the program. I was proud of the fifth year players this weekend.”
“I was pleased how the girls responded and their composure,” stated Trinity head coach Ryan Hofer. “ I loved to see them rally back and show heart. I thought it was another great game tonight. It was two teams battling it out.”
Hofer liked the play of a number of his players. “I thought Sophie (Carpentier, 4th year, outside, Ottawa, ON) did a really good job tonight. So did Katie (Kaitlyn Devaney, middle, third year, Port Coquitlam, BC) , Nikki (Cornwall, 3rd year, setter, Coquitlam, BC) and Elly (Elizabeth Wendel, outside, 4th year, Carronport, SK). There was a good group of them there. Then I had a couple of girls who came from the sidelines. Rowyn (Neufeld, 3rd year, outside, Richmond, BC) and Michaylee (Puckowski (2nd year, outside hitter, Kelowna, BC) who were a great supporting cast.”
Wendel led the way offensively for Trinity with 14 kills in 27 chances with four digs and four block assists. Devaney added 10 kills in 17 swings. She had two blocks and nine block assists. Cornwall added35 assists.
The Spartans split the last two weekends with UBCO and now TRU. With one weekend to go in the regular season (Feb 19-20 at home vs UBC), does Hofer feel his team is ready for the playoffs? “I love the last couple of games of the year. We had to fight with both UBCO and TRU and now its UBC. We are going to be ready for playoffs. If there is anything that we need to work out before then we are working it out.”
The WolfPack have the bye in the final week to prepare for the Canada West playoffs which begin February 26th. “We will take a couple of days off to rest some bumps and bruises,” says Grimm. “We may or may not know who we are going to play very soon. For a program that hasn’t been to the playoffs in some time, it will take a bit for the players get their heads wrapped around it but we will be ready.”