WolfPack takes first place in McDonald’s International Tournament
The WolfPack men’s volleyball squad saw first hand how Japanese volleyball is played during a special international tournament on the weekend of Jan. 2 at the Tournament Capital Centre. The tournament included men’s teams from Trinity Western University, UBC Okanagan and Budo University of Japan.
The WolfPack finished first in the tournament winning three out of five of its games. Trinity Western took second place, Budo third and UBCO fourth after having to leave the tournament early due to increasingly poor road conditions.
“It’s always fun to play against a different country in volleyball and just kind of see the way they play volleyball compared to us. We play most of these teams a lot throughout the year, so it’s kind of repetitive,” said team captain Matt Krueger. “They play volleyball in a different way that we’re not expecting. It’s always fun and interesting to see.”
The WolfPack alternates between hosting and travelling to international tournaments. They’ve played in Hawaii and California and have hosted Korean and Japanese teams.
Krueger remembers watching Budo University play against the WolfPack the last time they were in Kamloops six years ago.
“They play a little more of a defensive-minded game. They’ll dig a lot of balls and their passing is done extremely well. They’re just not quite as physical as us Canadian teams would be,” Krueger said.
There are no differences in the rules of the game for the Canadian and Japanese teams. But there is a noticeable difference in style and physique.
“Physically, we’re a little taller and jump a little bit higher. They rely on, at the university level and internationally, more finesse in their game and precision in their setting and their ball control,” said head coach Pat Hennelly.
“Their defence is usually pretty good and their offence is usually very precise and quick, with lots of movements. They’re trying to negate the size difference a little bit if they can,” Hennelly said.
On Jan. 4, the ‘Pack got the chance to socialize with the Japanese players when they went out to dinner.
“To hang out with them and get to know them on a more personal level I think will be cool for some of these guys that have never quite had that experience,” said Krueger before the dinner.
Following a two-week break, the exhibition tournament was a good opportunity for the ‘Pack to get ready for the season to start again on Jan. 10.
“It’s more of a way for us to work on things that we needed to work on from first semester,” Krueger said. “We’re working on a couple new offensive things, putting guys in new spots and trying to mix it up a little bit.”
The ‘Pack still has eight games before the season ends. To qualify for post-season play, Hennelly said the ‘Pack will have to win all eight games.