KAMLOOPS --- With just four weekends remaining in the Canada West volleyball season, both the men's and women's volleyball teams are on the outside looking in at the Canada West playoff picture.
For men's coach Pat Hennelly, the inconsistency he's seen from his squad wasn't what was expected in his first year back after a one season leave of absence to finish his Masters degree.
"It started out great in the pre season", says Hennelly, "we had some good results and great practices, then the season hit, and I think the nerves took hold. We were in recovery since that moment -- confidence and guys trying to find themselves, and obviously switching gears, it took me a little bit off guard."
For women's coach Chad Grimm, the 2017-18 season could be titled "life without Iuliia", as the team struggled finding it's identity at times after Iuliia Pakhomenko's USports career ended last season.
"The past three years we had a clear gear and we knew Iuliia was there to finish off matches" says Grimm. "We have a lot of girls who can do that, but maybe haven't been in that role so much. So I think it's just trying to figure that stuff out.
I know when I coached with the guys, it was a similar thing when we lost guys like Gord (Perrin), Kevin Tillie, Brad Gunter -- the team feeling each other out and who is going to step up in those critical situations."
It's a tough schedule on the womens side to close out the season. While they play five of their final six matches at home, they get the number two team in Canada West, Calgary, this weekend, play a home and away against number four UBC Okanagan after a bye week, then take on number three ranked Trinity Western to close out the season.
Says Grimm, "We put ourselves in good spots to win sets and win matches, but we haven't always closed those out. That's half the battle --- putting yourself in a position to win, now we have to learn how to put the nail in the coffin."
Right now the men sti tied with two other teams and share the same schedule as the women ----- sixth place Calgary this weekend, 10th place Okanagan February 8th and 10th and then they close out the season against the number one ranked team in the nation, the Trinity Western Spartans.
"We're not focusing on the playoffs." says Pat Hennelly, "What I said to the guys is we have three great weekends coming up with meaningful games. Last year they had very few meaningful games after the first half, so this is a playoff stretch here. We have a legitimate path to the playoffs, but that means beating Saskatchewan, beating UBCO twice and splitting with Calgary or Trinity."
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