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Dinos playoff hopes hang in the balance after splitting series with UBC

By Eric Licis, February 5 2015 —

The Dinos men’s volleyball team dismantled the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Jan. 30 at the Jack Simpson Gym. Winning in three consecutive sets (28–26, 25–21, 25–23), the Dinos earned two much needed points towards their goal of making the playoffs.

The Dinos’ game plan revolved around a strong middle game and an offensive push. With a 17-kill showing from second-year arts major Keith West and Braden O’Toole’s 12-kill performance, the Dinos never took their foot off the gas pedal.

The team credited the pre-game strategy for the sweep.

“We wanted to lock down their outside hitters,” West said. “We made a number of adjustments that we normally wouldn’t do, but made the change especially for this team. It ended up really paying off for us.”

The first set went back and forth between the two teams. Eventually the Dinos gained a four-point lead on the Thunderbirds, but a few unforced defensive errors allowed UBC to force a tie.

Holding onto the lead proved to be an issue for the Dinos in both matches.

“Missing serves at the wrong times was definitely the main issue with holding the leads,” West said. “We would make a really nice play and follow it up with a missed serve which would take away all of our momentum.”

After a long fought rally by the Dinos, they went on to win the first set 28–26.

In the second set, the Dinos took an early four-point lead, only to surrender points back. Holding a comfortable margin until late in the set, the Thunderbirds rallied back to 20–19. However, after a late substitution, Dinos outside hitter Calvin Siebert scored four points off the serve to win the set.

The Dinos took the lead in the next set with five early kills after a forced intermission following an illegal substitution by UBC.

But the Thunderbirds weren’t ready to have their wings clipped. After their first kill of the set, they maintained an outside presence and chipped away at the Dinos’ lead. Then, after using their final timeout, the Thunderbirds continued their onslaught and tied the set at 23–23.

West came up clutch for the Dinos again and put up two kills to end the game 25–23, denying a late game comeback by the Thunderbirds.

The Dinos are no strangers to winning in this fashion — it was the sixth time this season they won in straight sets.

“It lets us go to bed early tonight, which is nice,” West said on the 3–0 win against UBC.

The win helped the Dinos with their playoff bid, but the 3–0 loss they suffered the following night against UBC may have put a final stamp on their hopes.

With a bye next week, the results from games around the conference will decide whether or not the Dinos men’s volleyball team have a chance at the Canada West playoffs.

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