WolfPack splits weekend games

Things get positive for men’s volleyball as difficult season winds down

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The TRU men’s volleyball team had a positive weekend splitting a pair of games against one of the top-ranked teams in the country.

Coming into the weekend TRU knew they were going to be in a tough spot. Sitting at a record of seven wins and eleven losses, the ‘Pack entertained the University of Manitoba Bison, the fourth-ranked team in Canada.

The first game of the weekend went the way that most people would have expected with the Bison winning 3 sets to 1. It was a different story the next night however as TRU proved that even though their playoff hopes may be slight, they aren’t ready to give up hope just yet, coming out Saturday night and winning the match 3 sets to 1.

This season has been a difficult one for the ‘Pack. A team that is used to playing in the postseason has found itself on the losing end of many tight games.

DSC_8322While it would be easy for the WolfPack to get down-spirited, head coach Pat Hennelly says that the young players on the team have stepped up and are gaining valuable experience.

“There’s talk of Sam (Taylor-Parks) and Kyle (Behiels) being two of the better rookies in the league and it’s hard to argue with that because they’re out there consistently putting up numbers and making plays,” Hennelly said.

Even though this year may not be panning out the way that the ‘Pack would have hoped, Hennelly said that the young core of the team is coming together ahead of schedule.

“I think people talk about us being in a full rebuild next year, but the rebuild is already on and it’s going to be a really nice bright future for this program so I’m happy with everything I’ve seen so far. That’s the one bright spot of the season really, is that these guys came in with a pedigree and they’re living up to their names so it’s good to see,” Hennelly said.

Along with the play of the young members on the ‘Pack, another bright spot on the year has been the continued dominance of Brad Gunter.

For the last five seasons fans of the ‘Pack have been treated to Gunter elevating above the net and attacking the ball with a ferocious left-handed swing time and time again.

While everyone who has seen Gunter play knows how good he is, the fact that last week he became the all-time Canada West leader in points and kills came as a surprise even to him.

“I didn’t know that I was getting close to it whatsoever. It brought my energy and confidence up, so obviously that helps a lot in these final games,” Gunter said.

CIS volleyball made the switch to the rally point scoring system in 2000, so Gunter’s record means that he has been the most prodigious attacking player in western Canadian volleyball in the last 16 years.

The record points not only to Gunter’s skill but also his consistency and longevity, putting up numbers game in and game out for five years while playing for the WolfPack.

“Records are made to be broken but I think this one is going to stick around for a while,” Hennelly said.

With four games left in the year TRU finds itself on the outside looking in at the playoff race in Canada West; even winning out won’t be enough to guarantee them a playoff spot.

“The playoff hopes are dimming by the minute. We are now in the situation where we need help from other teams to really make it happen, regardless of how many wins we put up,” Hennelly said.

Photos by Tristan Davies