Consistency has been an issue all year for the women's volleyball team. With depth at every position, the Dinos were expected to be a top team all season. However, inconsistent efforts have forced the team to play a Canada West high of 79 games, 10 more than the Simon Fraser University Clan, who are second with 69.
"From our team's stand point, we're still struggling with our consistency," admitted head coach Kevin Boyles. "So many of our matches go in five sets, I think seven of our last eight. That's adding to my blood pressure."
Luckily for Boyles' blood pressure and that of the ladies on the volleyball team, the team has compiled a record of 6-2 in matches going to five sets.
The latest five-set blood boiler came this last weekend against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, a team with a 2-8 record going into the Jan. 12-13 match-ups against the Dinos. Though, the Huskies did sit at .500 on the road before the two losses to the Dinos.
"I'm pretty careful with the use of, 'what-we-should-be-doing' against any team in our league," said Boyles. "Every team in our league has the ability to win on a given night. Saskatchewan had a lot to say about that match going five."
Through fourteen games, the Dinos sit at 12-2, good enough for second in Canada West and a top national ranking. As it stands now, the Dinos are in good playoff position, but Boyles refuses to think the ladies are automatic for the playoffs.
"The league is really bunched at the top," said Boyles. "We need every win to make sure we're in a good playoff position, we still have an outside shot at hosting the final four, but more importantly we need to make sure we're at the final four. Certainly there's enough teams within striking distance of us that we need every point we can get."
The Dinos have a bye-week and they'll need it to rest up for their next challenge. The Dinos travel to B.C. to visit the Trinity Western University Spartans Jan. 26-27. The Spartans are currently ranked fifth in the nation, up from seventh the previous week, after splitting a home series with the tough-as-nails Bisons.
"Certainly [the Spartans] are a very capable team," said Boyles. "They've had a lower ranking just based on the weakness of their schedule. They hadn't seen any of the top four teams in the league coming into last weekend. Trinity Western is probably the toughest gym in the league to play, the lowest roof in the league, the tightest space, so a small number of fans can seem like thousands. It can be a really hostile environment. It's not an easy place to go in and get two wins."
The Spartans will be hungry coming into the game to take a chunk out of the Dinos. Not only did the Dinos beat them twice in pre-season Dino Cup play, but they have knocked them out of the playoffs both of the last two years. In 2004/05, the Dinos knocked them out in the first round of the Canada West playoffs, preventing them from going to the nationals. Last year the Dinos dropped them in the nationals, after losing out in the Canada West bronze medal game.
"Last year they beat us in the fifth set in the Canada West bronze, but then we knocked them out in the first round of nationals," said Boyles. "They really felt like they were going to make a run at the national championship last year. On neutral ground, like here at the Dino Cup, Manitoba and us have controlled Trinity Western. In their gym it's a completely different story."
These matches against the Spartans are important for many reasons. Not only is it a chance to increase the possibility of the U of C hosting the Canada West finals, it's also an opportunity to prove they deserve the top national ranking doled out by the Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
"[The Spartans] had Manitoba last weekend, this weekend Regina, then us and then U of A, so there's a lot of high-end volleyball yet to be played," said Boyles.