Men's volleyball vanquished

Straight-set loss to Trinity Western dashes national title hopes

Saturday, March 13

KAMLOOPS, B.C. - The men’s volleyball team’s chances of a national title went up in smoke Friday with a three-set loss to the fourth-seeded Trinity Western University Spartans, but head coach Brenda Willis said they can still accomplish their goals for the tournament.

“Our big goal is in 2012 when we host,” she said. “We just have to keep learning. I don’t think we came here thinking we were going to win a national championship this year with this team, but 14 of the 15 guys could be with us in two years, and for sure, that’s where we’re trying to head with this group.”

Willis said the Gaels didn’t play particularly poorly, but the Spartans played very well.
“I’m not sure things went wrong so much as they went right for Trinity,” she said.

The Spartans put up an 11-7 record in Canada West regular season play before claiming silver medals in the conference playoffs, while the Gaels went 16-4 in their OUA regular season before winning their conference title.

Willis said the tough opposition the Spartans face regularly in Canada West gave them an advantage. The conference has won 15 straight national titles and 37 of the 43 titles since the championships began in 1967.

“The tempo of this offence is something we don’t face in Ontario,” Willis said. “We also don’t face that level of serving very much, and I don’t think we passed well enough to run the offence we’re capable of running. They face other teams at that tempo, at that level of serving all the time and we don’t.”
Willis said the gap has begun to close in terms of player quality, but the Western teams are more precise.

“The biggest thing for us is to go through this tournament learning and getting better so we can go home and realize there’s no big gap, it’s just about getting better in all the areas; faster offence, a little more aggressive defence,” she said. “It’s just the little things.”

Libero Alex Oneid said the Spartans’ experience against tough opponents gave them a mental edge.
“They’ve had great competition the whole time,” he said. “They came out playing well and we matched it way too late. They were on fire.”

Oneid said the Gaels’ youth let them get caught .up in the moment.

“With being young, sometimes your head’s not always in the right place, and as a team, I think that’s something we struggle with,” he said. “Today, it was the same thing. Trinity Western came out thinking, ‘We’ve got to play this first point.’ We were thinking, ‘We win this, we’re guaranteed to come in top four.’ They were thinking about the right thing, we were thinking about the wrong thing.”

Andrew Bucholtz was the Journal's sports editor in 2008-09 and assistant sports editor in 2007-08. He blogs at sportingmadness.ca

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