Wolves snared by Rustlers

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The GPRC Wolves men’s volleyball squad dropped a four-set match (25-23, 25-19, 23-25, 25-22) to the Lakeland College Rustlers in Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) action at the GPRC gym on Saturday afternoon.

“We showed a lot of promise [on Saturday] and we were finally able to play our specific type of volleyball . And we saw it was us [dictating the terms] and not letting them [force] their [style of] volleyball on us,” Wolves outside hitter James Haythorne said. “We still have a lot of work to do to make sure it’s consistent throughout the game, rather than just a set and a half.” Haythorne had eight kills. Ethan Nashin led the team with 14 kills.

On Friday, the Rustlers picked up a three-set win (25-18, 25-17, 30-28) before the Saturday decider.

The set and half that Haythorne was referring to came during the third set, and a sizeable portion of the fourth set, but their play was far too inconsistent for the remainder of the match. Following behind 2-0 is not an ideal situation to be in for any team — it leaves little room for error.

But it’s early in the season and Schneider is far from worried. He feels that they just have to smooth out the burrs in the rough metal.

“It’s cliché but that’s what the process is when our guys have to learn to play with each other, as we learn our strengths and weaknesses,” Schneider said. “In some areas, we didn’t perform where we needed to and that’s why we train. We’ll get there. Is it frustrating? Yes, but it’s not something we’re worried about. We’ll go to work.”

In the third set, the Wolves showed what kind of team they can be when they play well.

Their defence was solid and their passing was excellent, moving the ball from side-to-side with speed. At the net, the outside hitters displayed power in their ability to get above the net and drive the ball straight down to the floor with force and pace.

“We’re athletic and we have guys that can make plays and we put them in and they were performing,” Schneider said. “In the third set were playing good block defence and it was leading to opportunities for guys to get kills. That’s the style we’re looking for. That’s a positive, we’re on the right track getting efficient and consistent is something. We have work to do and we’ll get it done.”

But Saturday’s game hinged on the fourth set.

The home side continued their up-tempo game in the fourth set, building a 20-16 lead. But Lakeland went on a service run that gave the visitors a 23-20 lead. The Rustlers managed to hang on from there to close out the match.

“Volleyball is a strange game. That run wasn’t just one thing, it was a combination of two or three things,” Schneider said. “There were a couple of plays that weren’t our best plays, back-to-back, and the other team made some plays within that and that’s the nature of volleyball. When you stack it together it looks like an ugly run. We have to be able to address that and respond by just being level-headed. Most of that match we did OK.”

Haythorne figured the team was heading for the fifth set, but they didn’t tell the visitors, who never quit despite being down by four points. It’s a valuable lesson for the Wolves to learn.

“We almost got too comfortable, I feel,” Haythorne said, while noting getting to 20 points first doesn’t guarantee a victory. “We sort of felt we were already going to the fifth set, I know I felt that way.”

The 6-foot-5 outside hitter from Bendigo, Australia was complimentary of the visitors from Lloydminster. Perhaps, in the future, the Wolves can take away a few lessons from the weekend and get into a consistent state of play.

“They did surprise us and took advantages of our weaknesses, more or less, showed us what our weaknesses are,” Haythorne said. “Hopefully, we’re able to use to [get rid of them] for next weekend.” The Wolves are at home next Friday and Saturday when the Kings University Eagles come to town.