KAMLOOPS —The final CIS match for three members of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team won’t be one they will remember with great fondness.
Before a spirited crowd at the TRU gym on Saturday (Feb 13), the WolfPack said good bye to Brad Gunter (Courtenay, BC), Brandon Hewwing (Calgary, AB) and Graham Stoliker (Surrey, BC).
Sadly for them, the home town team was beaten in straight sets by the Trinity Western University Spartans. The scores were 25-14, 25-23, 25-16.
TRU finishes the regular season out of the playoffs with a 10-14 record while Trinity Western will have a 13-9 record going into the final weekend of the regular season (Feb 19-20) when they host the UBC Thunderbirds.
The WolfPack honored their three fifth year players prior to the match.
“We didn’t have the same line up and didn’t have a lot of energy at the beginning,” said TRU coach Pat Hennelly. “ The second set was ours for the taking. Trinity stepped up in the end. Sadly we backed away in the second and were tentative in the third. It is tough when you mix the line up but it was important for us to get Charlie (Bringloe, 1st year, outside hitter, Waterloo, ON) out there. He is the future of our program. We needed Tyler (Pomietlarz, 2nd year, setter, Kelowna, BC) some reps. I wanted to see some of the guys who worked hard in practice out there and play the game. They were valuable lessons for next year.”
“We had two teams doing two different things in this match,” said Spartans head coach Ben Josephson. “They tried to honor their seniors. It was very cool with Graham having the first serve and then walking away. They were doing stuff for their culture and their team and we are trying to build for a playoff run. It is always a challenge when there are two different approaches to the match. I was frustrated with our guys-we missed nine serves in the first set. We had only six kills. It was hard to get into the flow of it. They were playing so aggressive in the second set. I was proud when we put a double sub in (Jacob Kern and Devyn Plett) and that sparked us on.”
Josephson said they achieved their goals this weekend. “We haven’t put together two good road games all season. That is all we talked about all day. We did it.”
The Spartans were led by Ryan Schlater(4th year, outside hitter, Port Coquitlam, BC) for the second straight night. He had eight kills in 26 swings with three digs and two block assists. Scott Plocktis (4th year, setter, Kelowna, BC) and Blake Scheerhoorn (3rd year, outside hitter, Belleville, ON) had five kills apiece. Adam Schriemer (3rd year, setter, Winnipeg, MB) added 19 assists.
For the WolfPack: they were led again by Gunter. He had 11 kills in 25 chances with an assist, three digs and a solo block. He finishes his CIS career with an all-time record of 1,476 kills and 1709.5 points.
Josephson had a lot of praise for Gunter, whom he coached at the Canada Summer Games. “I don’t know if we are going see the likes of him again. The way he swings. And to swing that many balls for that long and put up those kind of numbers. Imagine if he were have been healthy last year. He would have won the player of the year in Canada twice in a row. I think is he one, if not the most dominant player I have had to plan against. If he does his thing there is nothing we can do. We had to make sure he made a mistake and would have to stuff block him. We tried that last night and the very next ball he changed his angle and skipped it. I am excited to start rooting for him as he wears the red and white for Canada for the rest of his career.”
Bringloe had nine kills in 17 opportunities with two digs and a block assist. Pomietlarz had 29 assists coming in after Stoliker made his ceremonial last serve. Hewwing finished with four kills in 13 chances with five digs in his final CIS match.
Hennelly feels that many pundits will count out the WolfPack next year now that Gunter has moved on. “Many people think we won’t have a chance next year. I think we have a lot of talent on the court with lots of guys coming back. We have lots of young guys who are eager to get on the floor. We will certainly have some growth and some experience to gain but I am pretty happy with the state of the program. We will be pretty competitive for the next three or four years for sure.”
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