Two of the top-ranked teams in Canadian university men’s volleyball will meet this weekend at the Tournament Capital Centre.
The ninth-ranked TRU WolfPack (3-3) will face the No. 1 Alberta Golden Bears (6-0) on Friday, 7:45 p.m., and Saturday, 6:45 p.m.
“Alberta is ranked No. 1 in the nation and it is justified,” WolfPack head coach Pat Hennelly said. “They have strong returning players in Mitch Irvine and Jay Olmstead as well as a strong libero and two solid middles. They don’t have any glaring weakness so to beat them we will have to be at our best.”
Irvine is a fifth-year right side from Red Deer, while Olmstead, from Edmonton, is a fourth-year left side. Olmstead is third in Canada West in points, averaging 4.30 per game, while Irvine is seventh at 3.76.
The WolfPack is coming off two losses to the Trinity Western Spartans in Langley last weekend. The Spartans, the CIS’s defending champions, are ranked second in the country.
“I am grateful to be home this weekend,” Hennelly added. “Between the preseason and the five road games, fatigue has certainly set in. The guys had Monday off from weights and practice, so hopefully the two-day break will provide a spark for this weekend and the last three weekends of the season.”
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The WolfPack women’s volleyball team also will be at home as it takes on the Alberta Pandas on Friday, 6 p.m., and Saturday, 5 p.m.
The WolfPack (0-6) continues to look for its first victory, while the Pandas are 4-2 and at No. 3 in the CIS rankings.
TRU has been shorthanded due to injuries and is coming off two tough weekend matches against the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans in Langley.
“We had some good moments Friday,” said WolfPack head coach Keith Lundgren. “We fought hard at times and served consistently.”
As for Alberta, Lundgren said: “They are a very good squad, well coached and have good outside hitters.”
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On the basketball front, the WolfPack teams, both of whom lost twice at UBC on the weekend, will be in Calgary to play the Mount Royal College Cougars.
The TRU women’s team goes in at 2-2, while the Cougars are 1-3. They will play Saturday and Sunday.
“They like to run and will work hard to get their first win on home court,” said WolfPack head coach Scott Reeves.
Looking back at last weekend, he added: “We need to finish the game off. We led for most of the weekend but that isn’t good enough. We have to finish games.”
Diane Schuetze, TRU’s fifth-year post from Vernon, goes into the weekend having put up a double-double in all six games this season. She is the top scorer in Canada West, at 21.8 points per game, and also is the top rebounder, pulling down 15 boards a game. On top of that, she is first in blocked shots (2.3) and offensive rebounds (5.3), second in defensive rebounds (9.8) and seventh in assists (3.8).
Fifth-year guard Jen Ju, who is from Richmond, is third in Canada West with 18.5 points per game.
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The WolfPack men’s team and the Cougars both are 1-3. They, too, will play on Saturday and Sunday.
“They have some athleticism. They are quick on the perimeter,” WolfPack head coach Scott Clark said. “We will have to do a good job defensively and keep the ball in front of us. On offence, we have to be able to look after the ball.”
The WolfPack is coming off two weekend losses at UBC.
“Mount Royal is very similar to UBC,” Clark said. “In a lot of ways, they run similar offences. Some of their defensive schemes are the same. From a technical point of view, in preparation, it is almost an extension of that. There are some minor changes but it is still about us doing our jobs.”
The WolfPack will be counting on the Bozinovic brothers — Ivan and Blaz — to lead the way on the boards. Ivan missed the last three games due to injury, while Blaz fouled out in the third quarter of Saturday’s loss at UBC.
Clark said having those two out — along with DJ Oates, a freshman forward from Australia who turned an ankle in the first quarter — limited his team’s options.
Blaz Bozinovic leads Canada West in rebounding, with 11 per game, 8.8 on defence. He is second in blocked shots (1.8).
— Compiled from TRU news releases