While the Province of Manitoba may represent an appalling lack of civilization to some, volleyball fans got some relief with a pre-season tourney at the University of Winnipeg last weekend.
The Dinos men's volleyball team travelled east to play the hosts as well as the University of Saskatchewan, University of Toronto and University of Regina. And while the Dinos finished third out of the five teams, both the coaching staff and players agreed it was healthy for the team.
"It was a good learning experience," said assistant coach John Moersch, referring to his team's first matchups of the year against eastern teams. "Everybody played and had a positive experience."
Moersch also praised left hitter Corey Paddock who played in every game. However Paddock's reaction was modest, keeping his team's losses in perspective.
"Even though it's stereotypical, we gained more losing games," said Paddock.
The Dinos played U of W first on Friday but couldn't pull it together.
"Winnipeg is a very good passing and serving team," admitted Moersch.
Next up were the Huskies.
"We played Saskatchewan Friday evening and we were up 2-0 but we lost the last three [games]," said Moersch. "Saskatchewan had the same core [players] as last year so they're a very tight knit group. To go five games with them is good."
After the two disappointing losses, the Dinos defeated U of R although it was by no means an easy win.
"It was difficult because we had to be disciplined and focused and not play [down to] another team's level," explained Moersch, referring to the fact games can slide away to weaker teams when players let their guard down. "Lapse of focus can lose points."
Before jetting back to Calgary, the Dinos played Toronto. Unfortunately, the U of T was stricken by bad luck and lost a key middle hitter during play on Friday. Facing a Canada West powerhouse only added to their misfortunes. Toronto dropped the match 3-0.
"[U of T] plays a different game than Western teams," observed Moersch. "Western teams are typically faster, bigger, and a lot more powerful than their Eastern counterparts.
Although team captain Steve Brand described Winnipeg as being just as "good," he is optimistic about the Canada West.
"It was nice to see [our] talent was competitive with the teams we played," said Brand. "The league is going to be more competitive than last year."
At the net:
During last week's blood drive, the guys went as a team to donate. While most were accepted, the Canadian Blood Services turned power hitter Denis Zhukov down. Zhukov spent some time in the East Asia playing volleyball during the summer, which CBS saw as suspect.