By Emilie Medland-Marchen, March 1, 2016 —
After topping the Trinity Western University Spartans 3–1 in the opening match of the Canada West quarter-finals, the Dinos men’s volleyball team fell to the Spartans in game two on Feb. 27 at the Jack Simpson Gym.
A win in game two would have sealed the series for the University of Calgary, allowing them to move on in the playoffs. But the Dinos were unable to pull it off.
“We weren’t ready to play,” said Dinos head coach Rod Durrant. “We knew they were going to come out battling and that’s on me. We just didn’t have that killer instinct.”
The Dinos couldn’t regain the same energy they’d had the previous night. While powerhouse offensive plays dominated the first game of the three-game series, hard hits and solid passing led to the Dinos’ downfall in game two, as the Spartans secured the match 3–0 (25–14, 25–9, 29–27).
The game was defined in the first set, when the Spartans pulled ahead in kills and aces while the Dinos fell further behind in errors.
That lack of energy continued into the second set. The Spartans took advantage of the Dinos’ dwindling defence and capitalized on their kills.
Trinity Western took the first nine points of the set uncontested, until a hard-fought rally resulted in a tumble by Dinos hitter Keith West. He limped off the court, nursing an injury.
West was a major player in game one, and his absence seemed to refocus the Dinos. The crowd roared as the U of C fought back midway through the second set, but the brief burst of energy didn’t hold and the Spartans continued to lead.
The Dinos shifted their approach in the third set and were initially rewarded for their effort. Dinos hitter Curtis Stockton pounded out his sixth kill of the night to tie the game. He continued to avenge the game’s first two sets with another crucial kill, bringing the score to 21–20.
The two teams continued to rally back and forth. But with the two clubs tied at 27–27, the Dinos’ errors caught up with them again, allowing Trinity Western to put the match away.
Dinos middle Ivan Kartev said the team’s problems were clear.
“We didn’t show up at all,” Kartev said. “Mentally, we’re not there. That was the big thing for me. It was a big disappointment, no doubt.”
Despite the loss, Durrant was confident in his team’s ability to swallow their disappointment and regain their footing.
“The bottom line is, if you want to beat a good team like Trinity Western, you’ve got to play a little higher level,” Durrant said. “Tonight wasn’t our night, so we’ll learn from that.”
The Dinos men’s volleyball team put forth a valiant effort, but fell to the Trinity Western Spartans in the final match of the Canada West quarter-finals on Feb. 28.
It was a hard-fought battle for the Dinos, who thrived on the energy from the crowd packed into the stands of the Jack Simpson Gym. But the University of Calgary ultimately came up short against the Spartans for a second straight game, bringing an end to their successful season.
Despite the disappointment, Dinos head coach Rod Durrant was proud of the effort put forth by his club.
“We responded very well from last night,” Durrant said. “Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get it done. [The Spartans] left it out there today, they performed very admirably and I’m really proud of the way we competed.”
The Dinos came out firing in the early minutes of the game, downing the Spartans with back-to-back kills by Sean Martin and Keith West. The team needed a win after a disappointing 3–0 loss one night earlier.
Despite their early momentum, the Spartans continued to capitalize on errors, allowing them to edge out the Dinos in the first set.
The Dinos found strength in the crowd during set number two. Serving errors from the Spartans made the difference in the set, giving the Dinos a lead. The U of C managed to win the set 25–20.
With the match tied at one set apiece, the Dinos stumbled again in the third set. A burst of aggression from the Dinos gave them a brief four-point lead early on, but errors turned the tides yet again.
It was all-or-nothing in the fourth and final set of the match, with the Dinos firing back aggressively and utilizing the strength of their kills from hitter Keith West and setter Jackson Maris. Though they put up a good fight, the Dinos fell to their opponents with a set point of 19–24 and an overall match score of 3–1.
It was a tone of bitter disappointment in the Jack Simpson Gym as the Spartans celebrated their victory. The crowd rose to their feet to applaud the Dinos as they lined up to shake the hands of their opponents.
“There were definitely some highlights,” said West. “There was one moment early on in the fourth set — we were really down in points and Jackson Maris really stepped up and made plays that were out of his zone, in the sense that it wasn’t really up to him to make those plays but he pushed.”
Though the Dinos won’t move on in the playoffs, their coach remains proud of the effort they put forth this season.
“I’m proud of our fifth-year guys and their leadership for getting to third place in the league and 18 wins, the most ever in [Dinos men’s] volleyball history,” Durrant said. “There’s nothing but pride and admiration for this group. They’ve worked so hard and sacrificed so much. It’s a very special team.”