The Dinos men's volleyball team was back in action at the Jack Simpson Jan. 21-22 with a pair of matches against the number-two seeded Trinity Western University Spartans. Looking to gain some valuable points down the home stretch, the Dinos were hoping to improve on their 4-10 season record.
Friday's opening set was close, with the teams trading points early on. Blake Adair's blistering service ace for the eleventh point gave the home side a boost of confidence, but the retaliatory Spartan stuff block at the fifteen-point mark effectively took the momentum away. TWU then rolled on with strong front row play to earn the win 25-19.
Although the second set also went to the visiting team, 25-18, the crowd was treated to some spectacular play. Sean Kendal was a force at the net, rejecting Spartan attacks, and Brian Nelis' fancy tip with his trailing hand for the 11th point was nothing short of amazing.
With this type of effort to build on in the third set, the atmosphere in the gym was still positive as the Dinos traded points with the Spartans through the first half. A timely service ace by the visitors put a damper on things however, and despite substituting Ryan Lenz and Paul Albert into the game, the Dinos could not salvage the win, dropping the deciding set 25-18.
Nelis led the Dinos with 12 kills in the match, and noted that as a rookie, he is learning a lot from his veteran teammates.
"The vets are setting a good example, we've just got to follow it," he said. "My goal is to be as consistent as they are."
Playing as well as he has been in the past few weeks, he is definitely one of the Dinos to watch heading down the home stretch.
Looking to boost his team to a win on Saturday, Nelis came out strong in the opening set of the rematch. Although the Dinos dropped the first set 25-22, they lead the second early on. After the first technical break however, the Spartans went on an 11-6 run to cruise to another win, 25-21.
With the threat of being swept in two straight matches, the home squad rallied in the third, battling to a 20-15 lead before TWU again went on a points run. Strong blocking from Kendal and great defense from Rob Ellis held off the surging Spartans, giving Calgary a 25-22 win.
After forcing a fourth set, the Dinos looked to be holding their own until a service ace at the twentieth point gave the visitors the advantage and ultimately the victory, 25-22. Noteworthy for the Dinos was Ellis' play, recording 18 kills and 11 digs.
Head Coach Greg Ryan believes the key to success for his team lies in executing plays at the right time.
"We continually make a key mistake at 20 points," he said. "That's something we are going to work on."
The Dinos hope to have that problem solved by Jan. 28-29, when they travel to the University of Alberta to take on the Golden Bears.