Kamloops, B.C.—For the second time in its history, the McDonalds International Men’s Volleyball Tournament has been won by the host Thompson Rivers University WolfPack.
The WolfPack downed the Trinity Western University Spartans 3-0 to capture the 2015 title at the Tournament Capital Centre on Sunday (Jan. 4). The scores were 28-26, 25-23, 25-17.
The last time Thompson Rivers won the title was in 2012.
“We have to go into every game with the mentality that we have to win,” said Thompson Rivers head coach Pat Hennelly. “I thought it was good. We have had so few matches with a full lineup. We are a dangerous team when Casey (Knight, fifth year, outside hitter, Salt Spring Island) and Brad (Gunter, fourth year, outside hitter, Courtenay) are both in the lineup. That was the case today. Having Brandon (Hewwing, fourth year, outside hitter, Calgary) who was out with a stress fracture back in there gives us some stability. He is an older guy.”
“We were outplayed straight up,” stated Trinity Western head man Ben Josephson. “Casey Knight was the difference. You know Brad can do what he does. When you can add secondary scoring from Casey. He led their team in kill and hit .300. When you can add a secondary scorer like that it makes a team dangerous. That is what TRU was missing all first semester.”
Knight had 18 kills in 25 chances with five digs and a block assist.
Gunter finished with 16 kills in 27 swings with a service ace, nine digs, two solo blocks and a block assist.
Hewwing, who was named player of the game for TRU had five kills in 10 chances with three digs and a block assist.
“Casey was great,’ Hennelly stated. “He takes the pressure off Brad. Last year, he emerged. Between injuries and not having a full line up, we have been waiting for Casey Knight to get back on track. He had a great weekend against UBC and against Brandon. If he and Brad are playing like that, we are a great team.”
Pondering Playoff Possibilities
The question is though with the WolfPack returning to Canada West play next weekend at MacEwan, can they keep this momentum going as they literally have to ‘run the table’ in order to secure a playoff spot? “We talked about this in December. Our foot has to stay on the gas all the way through. We are in a playoff drive. We have a little more sense of urgency than Trinity Western. They should be in the top four in the league and deserve to be there. They are looking at a home date. We are in a fight for our lives. We are in a different mind set right now. We have to be. If we run out of gas when we make the playoffs so be it. But we have to play like crazy to make it.“
Josephson looks ahead to the Canada West schedule like this: “We have some of the weaker teams – MacEwan and Regina – up first. Then its gets heavy with UBC, Sask. and Winnipeg to finish. If we can play .500 ball we should Be in the playoffs.”
The WolfPack visit MacEwan in Edmonton, Alberta this weekend (Jan. 9-10) while Trinity is at home to Regina. Next TRU home match is set for Friday, Jan. 16 against the UBCO Heat.
– TRU WolfPack