Brad Gunter injures ankle in Saturday men's volleyball
Two losses to the Trinity Wester University Spartans hurt the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men's volleyball team, but not as much as losing their star player to injury.
Third-year outside hitter Brad Gunter of Courtenay, arguably the top payer in Canada right now, was carried off the floor Saturday with the score 20-19 for Trinity in the second set with a suspected ankle injury. He did not return. At the time, the Canada West and CIS scoring and kills leader had 10 kills in 23 chances with a service ace, three digs and a block assist.
The 'Pack battled on bravely without Gunter, but in the end fell 3-0 (25-23, 25-23, 26-24) as the Canada West-leading Spartans completed a weekend sweep of Canada West games in Kamloops. TWU prevailed 3-1 (22-25, 27-25 ,25-20, 25-14) on Friday.
“I was really proud of the guys the way they rallied in the second and third set,” said WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly. “Randy Grundmann (1st year, outside hitter, Winnipeg, MB) came off the bench and got some kills, a block and some key serves for us. Overall, I thought that third set was one of our best of the season. At one point, we were down by three or four points and battled back. I was proud of the effort.”
Spartans head coach Ben Josephson said despite the sweep on Saturday and on the weekend, it was a hard-fought series. “They make it hard on you. They play great defence and good block stability and tough serving. We are the top two serving teams in Canada West and they beat us both matches including tonight (6-5)."
Josephson said the WolfPack’s effort in the third set showed their character. “When you lose your guy, and arguably he is the player of the year (he will have my vote). To watch how they rallied together and the emotion they played with."
On Friday the Spartans, ranked second in the nation, upped their record to 16-1 with their 3-1 win. The WolfPack, who are fifth in the CIS rankings, dropped to 11-7.
The WolfPack got another big night from Gunter, who had 14 kills in 30 chances with two service aces, 10 digs and a solo block.
Despite being swept, Hennelly says he is still happy with an 11-7 record. “We haven’t played bad volleyball. We just haven’t been that sharp on the road. We have some obstacles and things to overcome. Like anytime you lose, some aspects of your game were exposed. Back to the drawing board: Regina on the road (Jan. 31-Feb. 1)and Manitoba at home (Feb. 7-8). I would be happy with a .500 record in those two weekends.”
SIDE OUTS Josephson on Gunter: “ He looked tired tonight (Friday). I know they won't say that but I thought he did. If he is rested tomorrow we are in trouble.” … Josephson praised Hennelly: “He is the coach of the year in my opinion. Carson and Gunter could play on any team in the league. But the way he has got the most out of his players is a credit to him and his coaching staff. They will be a tough team in the playoffs.” …
– TRU WolfPack