Carly Gunter is seeing more floor time with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack women’s volleyball team, while brother Brad is once again watching from the sidelines for the men’s team as the Canada West squads from Kamloops wrapped up the first half of their seasons at home in the Tournament Capital Centre.
It was not an easy task for either TRU team, as the visitors in both cases were the top-ranked Univeristy of Alberta, who swept both weekend series.
The WolfPack women gave the Pandas some fits in their on Friday night (Nov. 28). But in the end, the number one team in the CIS downed the upstart ‘Pack 3-0 (25-17, 25-17, 30-28). The Pandas are now 10-13 on the season while the ‘Pack have fallen to 7-8.
“Until the third set we didn’t have a lot of energy,” said WolfPack head coach Chad Grimm. “Our serve/receive wasn’t good and we didn’t have much flow. We changed it up a little bit in the third and had a lineup that featured more passers. We started to pass it a little bit more and grind it out offensively and made it a little bit closer.”
Rookie Gunter (libero, Courtenay) garnered praised from coach Grimm. “Carly has been in the last couple of weekends and has done a good job for us so she got the start for us,” Grimm stated.
TRU was led by Alyssa Wolf (4th year, outside hitter, Delta). She had 10 kills in 37 wings with 14 digs. Samantha Iuliia Pakhomenko (3rd year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) had nine kills in 26 chances with a service ace and five digs.
The Pandas completed the sweep Saturday with another 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-19) win.
Tough First Half
Meanwhile, the TRU men’s team have had a tough first half of the Canada West season. Mercifully it ended on Saturday (Nov. 29) at home. Unfortunately, they spent the final weekend of the pre-Christmas portion of the campaign hosting the top team in Canada: the University of Alberta Golden Bears.
After taking the Bears to five sets on Friday before losing 3-2 (19-25, 21-25, 26-24, 25-20, 16-14), the WolfPack – without CIS Player of the Year Brad Gunter (4th year, outside hitter, Courtenay) – fell in three straight (25-23, 25-20, 25-20) to the visitors on Saturday.
Alberta is unbeaten in 14 starts while Thompson Rivers dips to 5-11.
“We had some good spurts,” said WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly. “Brad tweaked his hip flexor in the third set Friday. He was a game-time decision. It is tough mentally to make that switch. I thought Casey Knight (5th year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island) did a good job making the adjustment. Randy (Grundman, 2nd year, outside hitter, Winnipeg) was solid on the left but we didn’t have the same fight tonight. Alberta was a little sharper from the service line early and that made a bit of a difference.”
Hennelly and the WolfPack have three weeks off before they host an international tournament Jan. 2-4. The competition includes Budo, Japan. “I think it is a much needed break. I know one of the problems – and women’s volleyball experienced this too – is a switching of lineups continually putting your preparation back a bit. We had a nice little run with our ‘crew ‘ ready go on the floor.
“Brad, Casey together on the floor. It lasted for only one match. It is frustrating. It changes how you go into the week. The break is good for everyone. It is a mental break as well as physical. We haven’t had a weekend off since early September. I think all the guys will appreciate it. Hopefully we can get everyone back and healed up and on the same page.”
– TRU WolfPack