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’Pack face Heat in Kelowna tourney

September 29, 2016 12:55 P.M.

TRU WolfPack men’s volleyball team are gearing up to play their first exhibition tournament of the 2016-17 campaign.

The ’Pack spend three days in Kelowna, playing at a tournament hosted by UBC Okanagan Heat.

TRU opens up play Thursday, Sept. 29, against UBCO.

Last week, the team played a series of exhibition matches against Trinity Western and UBC. 

“I think we learned some key areas where we need to focus our training,” said interim coach Mike Hawkins. “Namely serve and serve reception. We also have some solid strengths from which we want to continue building upon. We’re a talented offensive team, but hinder our option when our passing isn’t there.”

As far as getting set for this tournament, which will see them also play University of Saskatchewan Huskies on Friday, Sept. 30.  “We revisited some of our principles on offence and defence this week and spent a lot of time on our serve reception. For a lot of guys, we are asking them to try techniques that are different from what has made them successful and led them to this point in their careers, so it will take some time for these adjustments to set in.”

Hawkins says it may be early, but this tournament is a good measuring stick. “We are going to battle against these teams for a playoff spot. There are a number of teams who project to be right in the thick of things down the stretch and that includes UBCO, Mount Royal and Saskatchewan.”

The coach said a battle for positions is on amongst his players.

“We have notified the guys that we are only travelling with a maximum of 14 this weekend, meaning there’s been competition as to who travels. This is similar to what will happen in the regular season. We will look to roll with a shorter bench throughout the weekend, but will give the guys who earned the travel spots an opportunity to get court time.”

Hawkins made it clear that as of now no starter’s job is finalized.  “Starting positions are still very much in the air. The coaching staff has come into this season with a very open mind in terms of the depth chart, allowing guys to perform and prove they deserve their opportunities on the court. We are using a lot of statistics and are being as analytical as possible to let the guys’ play do the talking.”

TRU opens their 2016-17 Canada West regular season on Oct. 28 on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre when they entertain the University of Alberta Golden Bears.  Game time will be 7:45 p.m.

SIDE OUTS: This weekend will feature three of the four new head coaches in Canada West:  Brad Hudson (UBCO), Joel Dyck (Saskatchewan) and Hawkins. Dyck and Hawkins are both from Lethbridge, Alberta. Hawkins jokes that with the three of them involved this weekend there should be ‘bragging’ rights at stake as well.

TRU’s men’s volleyball was again the top money earner for the Raise a Reader campaign on Tuesday, generating $1,490  towards literacy programs in Kamloops.

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