Richard Schick and the UBC Thunderbirds found the perfect way to silence the crowd at the TRU Gym on Saturday.
The Thunderbirds defeated the TRU WolfPack in four sets (25-20, 18-25, 25-17, 25-23) in a Canada West men’s volleyball match. TRU had defeated UBC a night earlier, as the fans in the small TRU Gym endlessly tormented the T-Birds and Schick, their head coach.
The crowd was loud again Saturday, but didn’t have the same bite it had on Friday, when it clearly rattled the T-Birds.
“In the third and fourth sets today, (TRU) got up on us but we showed character coming back,” said Schick after the Saturday victory lifted his squad to 10-6. “I thought the crowd was more of a factor (Friday) night, but we played better and it’s tough to cheer when the home team isn’t doing great.”
Whether they were heckling or just cheering, the fans who attended Saturday saw a very good match. TRU played as well as it had on Friday, but the T-Birds were more on their game.
It started early and it started in the middle. Alex Russell, a second-year middle from Surrey, was in on three blocks and two kills as the T-Birds took a 7-1 lead in the first set, silencing some of the rowdier WolfPack fans.
“I thought Alex Russell did a good job at the net — he’s 6-foot-11 and I coached him at the (2011) Western Canada Games,” said TRU head coach Pat Hennelly, whose team is 6-10. “I really thought he made the difference on a few crucial plays.”
Russell ended with six kills and no errors on 13 swings, and also was in on an impressive nine blocks. In total, UBC had 16 blocks, 10 more than TRU.
“Our (middles) have been there all season for us,” Schick said. “They were (Friday) night but we came out on the short end of the stick, so it’s good to see them respond tonight.”
Brad Gunter, who is turning into a superstar for the WolfPack, led the way with 20 kills. Jacob Tricarico was ridiculously dangerous in the middle, getting 13 kills on 15 balls. Colin Carson had 40 set assists.
Jarrid Ireland had 12 kills for the T-Birds, Ian Perry had 13 digs and Milan Nikic had 34 set assists.
Ben Chow also had 11 kills for UBC and, most impressively, broke the net in the fourth set. Chow took a mighty swing — the ball hit the cable at the top of the net, snapping it.
It caused an 11-minute delay.
“Never seen that . . . not from a spike,” Hennelly said.
The WolfPack came out of the weekend in the same position it entered it — two matches back of the Winnipeg Wesmen (8-8) for the final playoff spot. TRU is off to Calgary to play the Dinos (4-12) on Friday and Saturday, before returning home to finish against the two teams directly ahead of it.
The WolfPack will play host to the Mount Royal Cougars (7-9) on Feb. 2-3, before wrapping up the regular season against the Wesmen on Feb. 8-9.
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The WolfPack women’s volleyball team lost again Saturday, falling in three sets (25-4, 25-17, 25-16) to the T-Birds, Canada’s top-ranked team.
Rosie Schlagintweit had 12 kills to lead UBC (15-1). Carly Nelson and Katarina Osadchuk each had five kills for the WolfPack (0-16), which won’t make the playoffs.
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TRU’s program-record women’s basketball winning streak ended in Saskatoon on Saturday, when the WolfPack lost 89-70 to the host Saskatchewan Huskies.
The WolfPack (11-4) remains second in Canada West’s Pacific Division. It is home to the Victoria Vikes on Friday and Saturday at the Tournament Capital Centre.
Diane Schuetze had 24 points and 11 rebounds to lead the WolfPack, which had won seven straight, Jen Ju scored 17 points and Taiysa Worsfold added 13. Dalyce Emmerson had 24 points to lead the Huskies (8-6) and Kiera Lyons scored 23.
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The WolfPack men’s basketball team fell to 6-9 with an 85-69 loss in Saskatoon on Saturday.
Zach Usherwood and Kevin Pribilsky each had 14 points for the WolfPack, and Brett Rouault added 10. Stephon Lamar had 28 points to lead the Huskies (10-4).
TRU is at home to Victoria on Friday and Saturday at the TCC.
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The WolfPack snapped its five-game B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League losing streak, beating visiting Victoria 8-2 at Memorial Arena on Saturday.
Anthony Delong had three goals, Alessio Tomassetti had a goal and three helpers and Kevin Lourens also had a goal and two assists. Shane Mainprize stopped 30 shots for TRU (5-8-0-1), with Jake Howardson, Tyler Jackson and Travis Herlein also scoring and Cody Rose earning two assists.
Shawn Mueller had both goals for Victoria, and Nick Babich and Sunny Gill combined to stop 34 shots.
TRU will play host to the Eastern Washington Eagles on Friday and Saturday.