Posted on: January 16, 2019
The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball team will likely face their toughest challenge of the Canada West regular season this weekend.
The Pack are going to be at the Langley Events Centre to meet up with the number one ranked team in U SPORTS: the Trinity Western University Spartans.
Despite winning three of their last four outings, the Pack will have to come up with their strongest performances of the season to stay above the .500 mark.
The teams meet Friday and Saturday (Jan 18-19).
The Pack have a bye week after these matches and have only one more set of matches on the road before the end of the regular campaign. That’s February 15-16th in Kelowna, BC against the UBCO Heat.
Date: Fri Jan 18/ Sat Jan 19 Time: 6 pm/5 pm PDT
Location: Langley Events Centre, Langley, BC
TRU Record: 8-8 on the road this year 2-6
Trinity Western Record: 14-0 at home this year 6-0
Important Game Notes:
Although led in kills by Olga Savenchuk and Kendra Finch, there are a number of other players who have picked up their games in order to help the WolfPack succeed. Avery Pottle has become a threat in the middle as has rookie Hayley McNaught (1st year, Woking AB).
Anastasiia Muzkyka (2nd year, setter, Poltawa, Ukraine) has taken over the starting setting position due to the injury of Abby Spratt and has done an effective job of distributing the offense.
Trinity Western is one of three unbeaten teams in U SPORTS women’s volleyball. The others are Dalhousie (AUS) who are 11-0 and ranked third in the nation. Sixth ranked Waterloo is unbeaten in nine starts.
Dalhousie features Kamloops native Mieke Dumont, a grad of South Kamloops Secondary who is into her fifth year.
Both matches this weekend can be seen on Canada West TV on a pay-per-view basis.
Thoughts from WolfPack head coach Chad Grimm:
1. Is this the real ‘acid’ test for the team this year meeting Trinity Western? Trinity is always a tough test. They are physical team that can run points quickly with good blocking and they have some terminating attackers. They are obviously #1 in the country for a reason so will provide us with an opportunity to measure ourselves at this point in the season.
2. Winners of three of the last four yourselves, how can you us that momentum going into this coming weekend? We were not super sharp technically this weekend but I think we won the battle of wills and found a way to stick with it when things weren’t looking great on our side of the net. That being said, Mt. Royal also allowed us the opportunity to get back into the match by also making some untimely errors, which isn’t something I expect to get out of Trinity. We will need to play very patient and disciplined if we want to compete this weekend.
3. What has made the Trinity Western program so strong over the years? Ryan has obviously done a great job of putting together teams with the skill and physicality to win at this level. I think that comes from recruiting strong student athletes that want to be a part of the program for 5 years and allows consistency within the group even when you have turnover.
4. What will you have to take care of in your side of the court to be successful? We will have to be more disciplined and really stick to our identity. We can’t all of a sudden be more physical than Trinity and begin to trade swings with them. We need to try to serve tough and extend rallies and show some patience.
5. Could you please talk about your bench strength. In recent matches, you have had people like Morgan Rigelhof or Lizzy Reimer come off the bench and provide an added spark. Absolutely, I have said to the girls from the start that I believe everyone can contribute and if they do well in whatever role they have at that point they will help the team be successful. Morgan and Lizzy both work hard at practice and that allows the coaching staff to trust that they can come in and contribute when called upon so I was happy to see them be successful this weekend.
6. As a coach, is that a luxury to have people like that? We have a great group of student athletes that want to succeed both on and off the court and it has been joy to be around them this season. When you get a group that is willing to do the things necessary for the good of the team then you have a chance to be successful.
7. Is the Langley Event Centre an intimidating place to play and if so, how will you deal with that for your younger players? I wouldn’t say it is an intimidating place to play more than any other gym we enter. With Trinity being ranked #1 it will be a tough place to play and I know they can have good fan support which should be fun for our girls to experience. I think we just need to take this as an opportunity to put everything on the line as we can really go into this weekend with nothing to lose.
8. Any one impressing you with their play on your roster right now? I think Avery had a great weekend for us both emotionally and statistically and Kendra has played tough in critical situations which has helped us to claw our way back when we have been down. I also think Olga brings a high level of experience to many different situations and adds to the overall compete level of our group.
Players to Watch:
Olga Savenchuk (1st year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine): i s fourth in the Canada west in both kills per set (4.02) and Kills (2.33).She is tied with teammate Anastasiia Muzyka for second on the team with 14 service aces.
Kendra Finch (4th year, outside hitter, North Vancouver, BC): second on the team in kills 183 and leads the team with 243 service aces. She is second on the team in points per set at 3.
Avery Pottle (3rd year, middle, Uxbridge, Ontario): leads the team in solo blocks with nine and in block assists with 35. She is third on the team in total kills with 79.
Brie O’ Reilly (4th year, setter, Langley, BC): fourth in the Canada West in assists per set (9.15).
Avery Heppel (2nd year, middle, Langley, BC): is third in the Canada West in blocks per set (1.13) and fourth in service aces per set (0.52).
Home game/match highlights will be available by logging onto www.gowolfpack.tru.ca