Head coach Pat Hennelly and his TRU WolfPack men’s volleyball team are in Year 2 of a rebuild and chasing a post-season spot with four matches remaining on their Canada West schedule.
“We’ve been clear with our guys,” Hennelly said. “I think rebuilds take three years. We’ve got some pieces in place.”
Odds of reaching the playoffs this season — which is the team’s goal — took a hit this past weekend in Edmonton, where the Grant MacEwan Griffins (3-17) posted a pair of 3-1 victories over TRU.
The WolfPack dropped to 8-12 in league standings and are tied with the Winnipeg Wesmen (8-12) for the eighth and final playoff spot.
“We’re right where I wanted us to be,” Hennelly said. “You want to be in it at the end of the season with a young team.”
An unexpected exodus rocked the Pack in the fall of 2020.
The 2019-2020 Canada West rookie of the year, Nimo Benne, a national team-calibre libero, Landon Currie, and a blue-chip recruit, Jonas Van Huizen, transferred to other schools.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys on our team who are working their way in,” said WolfPack middle Corbin Ockerman, whose club’s 2020-2021 campaign was nixed amid the pandemic. “We are in a rebuild, for sure. We definitely still have a lot of things to work on. Our serve receive and blocking could definitely use some work.”
The Trinity Western Spartans (15-5) will play host to a pair of matches against TRU this weekend in Langley.
“We’re just learning how to work through adversity and play with the big dogs,” said WolfPack outside hitter Sam Flowerday, who had 18 kills and three blocks on Saturday.
“We’re in a bit of a rebuild as of last year. We are going a bit better than expected. Next year will be some pretty good stuff from us, with only a couple of guys graduating.”
Winnipeg has four matches remaining on its schedule — two each against UBC (11-9) and Saskatchewan (13-7).
TRU will wrap its regular-season slate with matches against UBC (11-9) on Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 at the TCC.
“There’s definitely a lot of pressure, but at the same time, it’s a little freeing to know there aren’t that many expectations,” Ockerman said. “We are the underdogs. We can just go out there and play our best.”