CALGARY – The defending Canada West champion University of Calgary Dinos showed why they dominated the conference last season, earning a straight-sets victory (25-20, 25-10, 25-20) in their season opener against the Thompson Rivers Wolfpack on Friday evening at the Jack Simpson Gym.
The Dinos were ranked second in the preseason coaches' poll and began the season with a win at home, somewhere they didn't lose last season. Thompson Rivers will look to rebound tomorrow, now suffering their second loss of the year to Calgary after falling to them during non-conference play.
"As a team, we played really well, TRU is known to be kind of being a scrappy team, and I think we stayed patient and waited to take our chances," explained Calgary's Hannah Tanasichuk. "When we did, it was super successful for us."
It was a feeling out process for both teams in the opening set with neither team hitting the ball well right away. A couple of small runs by the Dinos allowed them to establish a lead as they held on for a 25-20 set victory.
Calgary cruised in the second, as the Wolfpack hit -.143 and did not record a service ace or a block in the set. A 7-1 run in the second half of the set by the Dinos put it out of reach as they scored a 25-10 win.
The Wolfpack rallied to put together a stronger showing in the third set, but the Dinos were able to finish the night early with another 25-20 set win. Kenzie Vaandering closed out the match with two of her team-high nine kills.
Vaandering's strong performance for Calgary was countered by Thompson Rivers' Olga Savenchuk, who collected 10 kills in the game. The Dinos finished with a .228 hitting percentage, while the Wolfpack came in at .082.
"We had a solid performance from start to finish. We have lots of different people that contributed, and we just played really confident and well together as a unit," said Dinos bench boss Natalie Gurnsey. "This is just a starting point. I have no doubt that this group is just going to continue to grow, they've already done that in the first eight weeks of our pre-season, so there's definitely room to grow."
The Dinos and Wolfpack will close out their weekends tomorrow evening with a 4 p.m. start as Calgary unveils their Canada West championship banner and celebrates last season's success.
Photo by David Moll