When Pat Hennelly, head coach of the TRU WolfPack, says something like "Getting embarrassed is the best thing that can happen," you get the feeling he doesn't want his theory tested more than once.
The WolfPack defeated the U of Calgary Dinos in five sets (21-25, 26-24, 13-25, 25-14, 25-6) in a Canada West men's volleyball match at the Tournament Capital Centre on Friday afternoon. The teams are scheduled to play again today, 2:45 p.m., at the TCC.
Friday's match was an interesting contest, as the WolfPack played as poorly as it possibly could have - all while Calgary was playing well - in a third set that was even more lopsided than the 25-13 score would suggest. But TRU turned it around in the fourth set, doing to Calgary what Calgary had done to it, then carried the momentum through the fifth set.
"That was exactly how we wrote it up in the team room, we wanted to get smashed . . ." joked Hennelly, whose squad is 3-0. "It went from (looking) like we were going to lose 25-8 to smashing them. I don't know what happened, but I honestly think sometimes getting embarrassed is the best thing that can happen in those situations."
That third set was a doozy, as the WolfPack hit negative-3 per cent while the Dinos hit 59 per cent. Calgary scored the set's first nine points and managed to keep WolfPack star outside Brad Gunter from getting a single kill.
Gunter had 18 kills through the first two sets, then pounded 10 more in the fourth. He ended the night with 31, including three on the last five points of the fifth set.
Gunter, like his coach, was impressed with the bounceback in the fourth and fifth sets.
"We came out (in the fourth set) with the mindset that we're not letting that happen again," said Gunter, who has 67 kills through three matches. "It's a maturity thing to reset and calm everyone down - that helped us."
The key play in the match came in the opening stages of the fifth set, with the WolfPack up 3-2. Calgary spiked a ball that was immediately called in. After consulting with the line judge, referee Trent Hammer ruled the ball was out, giving the WolfPack the point and the 4-2 lead.
The Dinos - and head coach Rod Durrant - were livid, and the WolfPack won six of the next seven points.
"Calls like that really interrupt the game-play," Gunter said. "If they're on a run, that can really interrupt them and sway the game in our favour."
Gunter was the WolfPack's lone offensive threat in the match, although Philip Ozari came to life late and ended with 10 kills and four aces. Colin Carson dished 44 set assists and dug 15 balls, while Spencer Reed had a career night, with 23 digs.
"I don't know if last year we would have come back in the fourth and fifth and played like that," Hennelly said. "We've talked about being different, and the results are there - we're not going to overlook it because we're getting wins.
"Sports is results-driven. Let's take the win and hope we play better tomorrow."
Connor Frehlich had 13 kills and 14 digs to lead the Dinos, with Jackson Maris setting 32 assists and adding 11 digs. Darcee Froese had 10 digs and eight kills.
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The WolfPack women fell to 0-3 with another three-set (25-17, 25-17, 25-17) loss to the visiting Dinos.
The teams will play again today, 1 p.m., at the TCC. Calgary is 2-1.
Ali Woodley had eight kills to lead the Dinos, and was in on five blocks. Janna Ogle had four aces to go along with seven kills, and Courtney Davis dug 16 balls.
Brianne Rauch had 11 kills for the WolfPack, and helped out with eight digs. Morgan Kolasa added 10 kills, and Gabby Fortin had 10 digs. Tori Taneda set 22 assists.