Pat Hennelly could only shake his head.
A day after being eliminated from Canada West postseason contention, the TRU WolfPack men's volleyball team pounded the Mount Royal Cougars in three sets (25-22, 26-24, 25-23) on Sunday afternoon at the Tournament Capital Centre. The Cougars had killed the WolfPack's playoff hopes with a four-set (25-21, 25-17, 23-25, 25-16) Saturday victory.
TRU had lost four straight heading into Sunday, with the last three of those losses coming against teams it needed to beat to make the playoffs. While Hennelly, TRU's head coach, was no doubt pleased with the Sunday effort, he was left wondering why his men hadn't been able to do that when it was needed.
"I told the guys that what's frustrating is that we have it," Hennelly said. "If we didn't have it, I wouldn't be frustrated."
Make no mistake, the WolfPack was better Sunday than it has been all season. It had an energy and looseness - and even some swagger - that had been missing for a few weeks.
"It felt like a weight was off our shoulders," said WolfPack outside Brad Gunter. "We loosened up, played well and had fun. Everyone was thinking too much, but when we let go, we played so much better."
It has been a frustrating season for the WolfPack, if only for the promise it hinted at occasionally. TRU beat two ranked teams - the Brandon Bobcats and Manitoba Bisons - on the road in the first half, but followed up the Manitoba victory with a loss to the Regina Cougars, who now are 2-18.
TRU also had a good showing at its home tournament after Christmas, then laid an egg in its first weekend back, a road sweep against the Saskatchewan Huskies.
The WolfPack regrouped, and scored an emotional victory over the UBC Thunderbirds at TRU Gym on Jan. 18, but couldn't build on that momentum and was swept by the Dinos (6-14) in Calgary on Jan. 25-26.
"Saskatchewan, I was like, 'Where is it? We had it in the tournament,' " Hennelly said. "Calgary, I was like, 'Where is it? We had it against UBC."
Gunter had 11 kills and 16 digs to lead the WolfPack, with Mohamed Rehim getting nine kills and Philip Ozari eight. Colin Carson had 40 set assists and 13 digs, and Matt Krueger also had 10 digs.
Colton deMan had 18 kills for the Cougars. Marcus Ernewein had 25 assists.
TRU (7-13) will finish the regular season against the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday and Saturday at the TCC. Winnipeg (10-10) is sitting in the last playoff spot, with Mount Royal (8-12) the only team able to catch it.
Hennelly and his men aren't thinking about playing spoiler, but they do want to finish strong.
"We all expected to be in the playoffs this year, and I think the weight of that crushed us a little bit," he said. "It's an important lesson, and I told the guys: 'It's not experience if you're not learning from it.' "
DeMan also had 18 kills Saturday, and Dan Durham had 13. Gunter had 11 kills for the WolfPack.
The WolfPack women are 0-20 after losing in three sets (25-5, 26-24, 25-9) to the Cougars.
TRU, which was never in the match aside from the second set, will finish its season against the visiting Wesmen on Friday and Saturday.
Olivia Grecu had 11 kills to lead the Cougars.
The WolfPack hockey team lost 5-4 in overtime to the Selkirk Saints at Memorial Arena on Friday.
Kam Crawford scored the overtime winner, and Jackson Garrett, Ben Starbuck, Cody Fidgett and Jordan Wood also scored for the Saints (16-1-0-0), who are first in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League. Wood and Logan Proulx each had three assists, and Stephen Wolff made 30 saves.
Jarrett Martin, Jake Howardson, Colten De Frias and Kevin Lourens scored for TRU, and Riley Wall stopped 50 shots.
The third-place WolfPack (7-8-0-2) is home to Simon Fraser on Friday, 8:30 p.m.
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