There seem to be common words that remain relevant regardless of the sport -- consistency is one. After a two-game series over the weekend with the University of Brandon Bobcats, the University of Calgary Dinos men's volleyball squad are faced with the humbling task of regrouping as a .500 squad before heading out on a two-game road trip to face the University of British Columbia (5-1) on Nov. 25-26. The Dinos were defeated three sets to one (20-25, 23-25, 25-20, 20-25) on Saturday. Brandon earned only their second win of the season and now sit at 2-6. The Dinos's loss came after a 3-1 win over Brandon on Friday.
After capturing their ninth Husky Dino Cup title in October, the Dinos have struggled to hit their stride, managing a 4-4 record so far. The split result with Brandon mirrors a similar result with Thompson Rivers University in late October that also resulted in the Dinos winning on Friday and losing the following day. The Dinos clearly have the players to compete in the top-tier Canada West Conference. The veteran-laden squad features five returning fifth-year players, including 2010-11 first team all-star and Canadian Interuniversity Sport player of the year Graham Vigrass. Ranked fourth in the CIS going into this weekend's action, the Dinos have high standards for their 2011-12 season and hope to rekindle some of the magic that contributed to their 2010 national championship. Though each game was close in score, losing the second match irked head coach Rod Durrant, who is confident in the team.
"We have a talented group of guys with a lot of experience and we are pleased with the work ethic and the effort, but we are really struggling with consistency and putting together back-to-back performances," Durrant said. "We came out and we weren't able to make adjustments."
Durrant, who sports an impressive .600 winning percentage (54-36) as head coach of the Dinos since 2006, led the team to become the 2010 national champions.
The Dinos struggled against Brandon with unforced errors and miscommunications, two factors on which the Dinos need to improve moving forward.
"We need to be engaged, point-by-point and do the little things really well. Right now, we are just making too many mistakes at the wrong time," said Durrant.
Fifth-year libero Jace Richards echoed Durrant's frustrations.
"A lot of errors and lack of communication caused the poor play on our side," said Richards. "[Friday] was a good night and we fell down again. Lack of consistency has been the main issue on our team and that's something we've got to figure out."
Brandon was able to frustrate the Dinos through effective blocking and timely digs, relying heavily on left-side Ben Glue and middle Jonathan Sloane, who combined for 36 of Brandon's 56 kills. Sloane scored nine blocking assists himself -- as a team, the Dinos had 12 blocking assists.
"They ran a good offense," said Sloane. "We didn't get the blocks we wanted or the slow-downs we needed. They did a good job of running the middle and we didn't have anything to come back at them."
The Dinos certainly have the team to make a serious run at their second CIS title in three years, but simply aren't firing on all cylinders yet -- the talent is there, the work ethic is there and the season is still young.