KAMLOOPS — The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack got off to a great start and then found themselves in a ‘playoff type’ match against the University of Manitoba Bisons on Friday night (Jan 29).
As the WolfPack battle for a post season berth, they got a taste of what it would be like—falling 3-1 to the Bisons in Canada West play at the Tournament Capital Centre. The scores on the Warner Rentals court were 23-25,25-18,25-21,34-32.
TRU falls to 7-12 on the year while Manitoba moves to 14-3.
“It was a great win for us,” Manitoba coach Garth Pischke said afterwards. “It is always tough playing here. We have had some great match’s every time we come to Kamloops regardless of where the teams have sat in the standings. It is always a real good competitive match and that’s the way it was tonight. They have Brad Gunter (5th year, outside hitter, Courtenay, BC). He is “the guy” and we have to find a way always to try and minimize the damage that he is going to do.”
Gunter was named the TRU Bookstore/McDonalds “Leader of the Pack” player of the match. He had19 kills in 43 chances with a service ace, six digs and four block assists for 22 points. He continues to add to his Canada West all-time kills and points record.
“The start was great,” WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly said. “The second set saw us get tentative again. I thought we had a chance to get in there. A call (rotation) went against us and created a situation where the gap went from two to five against us. I made a couple of subs and we tried to reset for the third. It is unfortunate. We battled ourselves all the way along tonight. This was a playoff atmosphere in here tonight. I think it how you have to play in the second half. We did some uncharacteristic errors on setting balls to the net and where we were standing on D. I liked our fight and how we battled. We served tough. I can’t fault the guys’ intensity though. It is how the sport is supposed to be played.”
Pischke agreed with Hennelly that the match had a ‘playoff feel. “That is what’s great for us. We are in good shape to make the playoffs and we need to play like we are already there. We don’t want to drop the first match of a best of three and have our backs against the wall. We need to learn to play hard. They gave us everything we could handle tonight.”
Manitoba was led by Deevren Dear (4th year, right side, St. Andrews, MB) with 23 kills in 42 swings with four digs and a block assist. Adam DeJonckheere (3rdyear, left side, Winnipeg, MB) figured in with nine kills in 25 chances. He had four digs and a block assist. Luke Herr (4th year, setter, Winnipeg, MB) accumulated 41 assists with nine digs, a service ace and three block assists.
He said it was a test of character for his Bisons. “For sure. We did make some mistakes. Credit to the WolfPack for catching us on them. I think the big thing was hanging in the fourth set when Grundmann (Randy, 3rd year, outside hitter, Winnipeg, MB) had back to back court balls which dropped in there. Those are tough to get those out. It takes a lot of composure and that is what I really liked from us.”
Grundmann finished up with 15 kills in 28 opportunities with three service aces and six digs. Graham Stoliker (5th year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 47 assists and six digs.
Hennelly praised those two and Gunter. “Brad had some big players for us. I thought Randy was solid tonight and had a great serving run in the fourth and really pushed it. Stoliker did a good job today as well. We got a lot of guys in. Finding a rhythm and making little plays not big ones that were missing. I can live with the hard misses. It’s the ‘little stuff’ that got to us. We were nervous under that intense level-we aren’t use to it. Hopefully, it was a learning experience for our guys.”
The two sides will close out the weekend series with a 6:45 pm match on Saturday (Jan 30) at the TCC.
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