In a game of wild momentum swings, the Vancouver Island University Mariners had the last word, edging the University of the Fraser Valley in a five-set thriller in men’s volleyball action on Friday in Nanaimo.
The Cascades stumbled out of the gate, falling 25-14. In the second set, they made a strong rally after falling behind but still ended up dropping a 25-23 decision.
In the fifth, the Cascades had match point at 14-13, but the Mariners battled back to notch the next three points and claim the victory.
“We definitely didn’t start well,” noted UFV head coach Kyle Donen. “Right out of the gate, whether it was nerves of the fact it was our first road game as a group, we didn’t play well. But we got some momentum at the end of the second set.
“Unfortunately in the fifth, we weren’t able to get any separation, and it was really anybody’s game at the end there.”
Kurtis Stromdahl (16 kills, 12 digs, two aces) and Joel Kleingeltink (11 kills, 15 digs, three blocks) led the way for UFV with well-rounded performances. Middles Robert Koenig and Connor Nickel were instrumental in the team’s mid-game comeback, notching six kills apiece and combining for nine blocks.
“We just weren’t able to get a pass to get the offence that we needed at the end,” Donen said.
“I think it just showed us how important it is to find our rhythm early. We didn’t come away with the victory, but it’s a good learning experience for us.”
The Cascades (3-2) and Mariners (4-1) clash again on Saturday in Nanaimo. The women’s teams play at 1 p.m. followed by the men at 3 p.m.