Kamloops, BC—For the second time this Canada West season, the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team will be playing on a Thursday night.
The ‘Pack kick off a home and home series with the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat tonight at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The two teams will play tonight on the Warner Rentals court at 7:45 pm. They then wrap up the series Saturday (Feb 18) in Kelowna.
The Heat enter the series 10 th in the Canada West (5-15) while TRU sits 12th (2-18).
With two weekends to play, WolfPack interim head coach Mike Hawkins is hoping for some improvement from his squad. “It is important for us to focus on better these last two weekends. Even with season winding down without the prospect of playoffs, the guys have maintained a high level of focus and energy throughout our training. If we can translate that to our matches and play well, it will be a much better feeling for the guys heading into spring training and next season.”
Hawkins says the WolfPack and Heat have had similar seasons in 2016-17. “They are a team with some talented athletes, but as our main rival here in the Interior, I know our guys will be jacked up to play these matches. We know there are certain things we can do against them to have success, so coupled without passion and desire to beat the Heat, I’m confident we can continue our run of owning this rivalry.”
When he looks at his team’s improvement over the last few weeks, Hawkins points to one area. “Our serving has been a strong part of our game these past few weeks. We have challenged the guys in practice to increase their velocity and push their aggressiveness from the service line. Some guys, like Doug (Groenendijk, 3rd year middle, Westholm,BC) and Anton (Napolitano, 1st year, outside hitter, Victoria, Australia) have really embraced that challenge and are now hitting very impressive float serves that put the opponent in trouble.”
Hawkins says although his young crew is developing, one player has shone of late. “STP (Sam Taylor Parks, 2nd year, middle, Kelowna, BC) has been solid for us for most of the season. He is still learning the ropes on how to be a consistent player in this league, but he has a great head on his shoulders and is determined to be a dominant middle blocker. I have also been extremely impressed with his leadership as the season has gone on. He has really stepped up his vocal leadership which is huge for this young core group of guys.”
The WolfPack close out their regular season next weekend (Feb 24-25) in Saskatchewan.
SIDE OUTS: Thompson Rivers played a Thursday match in early January in Calgary. This weekend will decide the President’s Cup (A competition between UBCO and TRU in all Canada West sports). The men’s trophy has already been decided in favor of the WolfPack for a third straight year after both TRU men’s soccer and men’s basketball swept UBCO. The women’s trophy race is led 3-1 by UBCO. The Heat took both soccer matches and split in basketball. TRU won the women’s trophy last night.
Thursday night’s match will also be “Volleyball Alumni night” with a special section set aside for former players and their families near the court. It is also Kamloops Volleyball Association night where a number of club players and teams will be in attendance.