Kamloops, BC—The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack are back home for their final three matches of the Canada West regular season.
The Pack entertain the University of Winnipeg Wesmen this weekend (Feb 10-11) and then the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat on Thursday (Feb 16).
All three matches will be played on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre. Entering the weekend, TRU has a record of 2-16 while the Wesmen are .500 at 9-9.
“Winnipeg is a team that has come on strong the latter half of the year with the return of Casey Schoueten (4th year, outside, East St. Paul, MB),”says WolfPack interim head coach Mike Hawkins. “ He is a dynamic offensive player that gives them a much different look. We know we have the ability and matchups to contend with this team, and will look to put pressure on them in a number of different areas.”
After being swept by the number one team in USport/Canada West last weekend in Manitoba, Hawkins is hoping for a turnaround this weekend. The ‘Pack have gone deep into their bench over the past few weeks in order to find some solutions. “We had a pretty rough week last week with injuries and illnesses, but it seems like we’ve hit the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s still unclear the type of impact our new players are going to have this weekend, but we’re optimistic they will be able to play some sort of role in our matches.”
Hawkins says most of those young players are starting to get accustomed to the Canada West and what success at this level demands. “ Given where we are in both the standings, our season and our competitive cycle, it is important to us to give opportunity to our young athletes to grow in high intensity situations. Guys like Charlie (Bringloe, 2nd year, outside hitter, Waterloo, ON), Anton (Napilitano, 1st year, outside hitter, Victoria, Australia) and Jake (Hamilton, 1st year, setter, Calgary, AB) are all getting thrown in the fire of the Canada West against tough opponents. As with any young player, they have their inconsistencies, but for the most part have shown off their development in impressive displays on the court. Each of our guys have a unique set of skills and look to have an impact on the game with what they do best.”
Another player who has blossomed and has flirted with “Canada West best’ type stats at times this season has been third year libero Cole Keddie (Edmonton, AB), who is a two time “USport Academic All Canadian”. “Keddie has been very consistent for us at the libero position,” says Hawkins. “But you won’t really notice him in a game, and that is probably how he likes it. Keddie is a quiet guy, but has been a rock for us in serve/receive and one of the top defensive players in the conference all season long. We have as asked a lot from him in commanding our back row and running it like a defensive coordinator. Credit goes to both him and Matt Krueger (WolfPack assistant coach) for his development over this season.”
Match times this weekend are 7:45 pm on Friday and 6:45 pm on Saturday.
Both matches will be webcast on a pay-per-view basis on www.Canadawesttv.ca
SIDE OUTS: The WolfPack will honor their lone fifth year player: Daniel Eikeland Rod (outside hitter, Oz, Norway) on Saturday. His family has come in for the weekend. “We are excited to welcome Daniel’s family for this weekend’s Seniors Night,” Hawkins explains. “They Flew into Vancouver early this week and will spend a few days enjoying Kamloops and getting to see Danny in action.”
Hawkins on Schouten and the Wesmen: “Schouten is the heartbeat of their team, but we also know they have a number of guys who can hurt you. They have a solid group of outside hitter who control the ball well and make smart decisions on offense, so we would be foolish to only focus on one player. To a man, if we can play disciplined defense and run our game plan offensively, we know where we can have success.”
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