Griffins can't contain Dobbert in 3-1 loss to WolfPack

Jordan Peters, centre, waits for a serve against Thompson Rivers University on Friday night. Peters led the Griffins with 14 kills in a 3-1 loss to the WolfPack (Andrew Snucins photo).
Jordan Peters, centre, waits for a serve against Thompson Rivers University on Friday night. Peters led the Griffins with 14 kills in a 3-1 loss to the WolfPack (Andrew Snucins photo).

MacEwan Athletics and TRU Athletics

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – They watched film on him. They came in with a game plan on him. They talked mostly about stopping him.

Despite focusing a ton of energy on Tim Dobbert, Thompson Rivers' big outside hitter, MacEwan had no answer in the moment, yielding 26 kills to the 6-foot-10 German – the most by any player in a Canada West men's volleyball match this season. That led to a 3-1 win for the homestanding WolfPack (18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-13).

"We talked about No. 15 and couldn't touch him," lamented Griffins head coach Brad Poplawski. "We did such a poor job against him that we may as well not block. We were so undisciplined with everything that we may as well just stay down and play defence on him and take our chances. He just hit hands on every ball and he scored."

Dobbert took nearly half of the WolfPack's 124 kill attempts (52) and hit with .346 efficiency.

"Without Tim I don't know what happens here," said TRU head coach Pat Hennelly. "Tim gets us out of trouble a lot of times. We almost take it for granted that Tim is going to have a great game. That is how good Tim is right now. He is consistent and regular. When we need a serve, he provides a serve. When we need a block, he comes up with a block. He is quite a good a defender as well. You take it for granted sometimes."

The Griffins came out strong in the first set and led 16-10 going into the first tech timeout. TRU rallied thanks in part to a couple of big kills from Dobbert. They cut the margin to two (17-13).  But MacEwan got four kills from both Jordan Peters and Kai Hesthammer as they rolled to a 25-18 victory.

In the second set, TRU jumped out to a 2-0 lead early and had a four-point advantage getting to the 16 point tech timeout first. Paced by Dobbert, who had 19 kills after two sets, the WolfPack tied up the match.

The third set opened with MacEwan taking a 5-0 lead, helped by three TRU service errors. After Hennelly called a time out, the Pack cut the deficit to one (8-7) and then assumed an 11-9 lead. The Griffins gutted out a comeback, though, and things were deadlocked at 15 before the Pack got the 16th point to send the set to a break. Thompson Rivers had a four-point lead looking for the set point, but the gritty Griffins didn't go away, cutting the deficit to two (24-22) before Dobbert delivered the final blow. 

Like the previous sets, the fourth saw MacEwan open up with a lead. They were up 4-1 before Thompson Rivers tied things up at 7 and never looked back, rolling into the tech timeout with a 16-10 advantage. The Griffins couldn't mount any sort of a comeback and bled points in a lopsided closing set loss that is sure to leave a bad taste in their mouths.

"I think we had the start we wanted in every set and just couldn't maintain," said Poplawski, whose crew got into Kamloops late Thursday night and were unable to make the early practice time allotted to them in a gym that requires practice.

TRU hosts games in a Fieldhouse-sized complex, making depth perception on the court tricky, especially for many Griffins players who haven't experienced the facility before. Poplawski thinks that lack of prep time cost them.

"It was unfortunate we didn't have a chance to get in and serve-pass this morning," he said. "That was kind of my worry for athletes, especially who haven't seen the gym before that it might be kind of tough.

"Our passing was good in the first and as the game went on we started to pass worse and worse. We really lost our passing, so that makes it pretty impossible to play."

MacEwan was led by Jordan Peters with 14 kills, while Kai Hesthammer had 11. Caleb Weiss produced 31 assists.

The Griffins (2-7) will aim to rebound in Saturday rematch against the 6-1 WolfPack (8:45 p.m. MT, Canada West TV).