As the Dalhousie Tigers were spread out in airports all over Canada, three other teams were getting ready for the McDonald's Invitational tournament.
The TRU WolfPack is to play host to the exhibition men's volleyball event today and Sunday at the Tournament Capital Centre. TRU will be joined by the UBC Thunderbirds and the NCAA's Pepperdine Waves - along with the Tigers, if they manage to get to Kamloops.
Pat Hennelly, head coach of the WolfPack, said Friday that he received a call from Dalhousie head coach Dan Ota earlier in the day. Hennelly was told that 10 of the Tigers players were stuck in a "logjam" at an airport in Montreal, with the other six unable to fly into Kamloops due to poor weather somewhere along the way.
Hennelly also said Ota told him the players in Montreal don't have their bags.
All of this means that the Tigers won't be able to play in their opener - it was scheduled for 11 a.m., against the WolfPack - meaning TRU will get a default victory.
"I don't think (Ota) is too concerned with winning the tournament or anything," Hennelly said. "They just want the games."
Hennelly said Dalhousie, which calls Halifax home, still plans to come to Kamloops, as it has to be in Calgary for a tournament at Mount Royal next week. The tournament is looking into options for when the Tigers do arrive.
"Whenever they get here, we'll possibly play later (today) at the TRU Gym," Hennelly said. "Right now, the rest of the tournament goes as planned. Nothing's going to affect our game (against Pepperdine) at 7 p.m."
With the 11 o'clock game cancelled, the tournament will open with the Waves and Thunderbirds battling at 1 p.m.
UBC and Dalhousie - should the Tigers arrive - are to tangle at 5 p.m., before TRU and Pepperdine at 7 o'clock.
On Sunday, the Waves and Tigers are to play the opener at 11 a.m., followed by TRU and UBC at 1 p.m. The bronze-medal match will be played at 5 p.m., with the championship final scheduled for 7 p.m.
Dalhousie's problems in getting to Kamloops mean Hennelly has to change some strategies on the fly. He originally had planned to run a full lineup against Dalhousie and Pepperdine, and play a shortened bench against UBC and in the playoff match.
"That's different already," he said. "We want to win the tournament, so we're really going for it on the second day."
Because TRU already has earned a victory - the default counts in the standings - it likely only will have to beat Pepperdine or UBC to make the final.
"We're going hard at UBC, for sure," Hennelly said.
The WolfPack and UBC are Canada West rivals, with the T-Birds (8-4) well ahead of TRU (5-7) at the midway point of the season. TRU split with the T-Birds at UBC's preseason tournament, and the teams will play a doubleheader in Kamloops on Jan. 18-19.
"They've played really well," Hennelly said. "They went into Manitoba before the break and got two wins (against the Bisons). That's a tough sweep."
Pepperdine is always a contender in the NCAA, while Dalhousie is a perennial national contender out of the Atlantic conference.
Hennelly said all 16 of his players returned to Kamloops healthy, but Polish left side Krzysztof Orman and transfer libero Blake Majcher injured ankles on Friday.
"Everyone came in healthy, but Krzysztof sprained an ankle and Blake tweaked his ankle," Hennelly said. "Those are two minor injuries. Philip (Orman) looks good - his finger and ankle are better.
"The rest of our guys are healthy . . . knock on wood."
Diane Schuetze and Tracy Kocs each scored 25 points as the WolfPack women's basketball team pounded the Arizona Christian Firestorm 95-67 in an exhibition game in Phoenix on Friday.
Schuetze also had 10 rebounds, as did Taiysa Worsfold, who scored nine points. Jen Ju had 16 points, while Jorri Duxbury ended with 10 points, seven assists and seven steals. Kocs also had seven steals.
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