The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team got off to another hot start against the Vancouver Island University Mariners, only to watch the Mariners claw back to earn the victory.
The Cascades, who had won the first two sets on Friday only to fall in five to VIU, came out blazing in Saturday afternoon’s rematch and took the first set 25-18.
But the Mariners – ranked No. 7 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) national poll – lived up to their advance billing by bouncing back to win the next three sets 25-19, 25-13 and 25-19.
“We started well, and we hit a bump towards the end of the first set,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen analyzed. “For whatever reason it seemed to derail us going into the next set, and they came out better.
“We can’t let one or two good shots or good plays here and there (by the opposition) affect how we’re going to approach the next game or the next ball. It seemed like that was a bit of a problem for us. We’d let one mistake or one unlucky play that didn’t go our way derail us or deflate us. We need to be more mentally tough in that sense.”
The Mariners, who sit third in the PacWest conference, boosted their record to 11-5.
The fifth-place Cascades (6-12), meanwhile, sustained their ninth loss in a row, but they’ve been dealing with an extremely tough schedule of late. Their last six games have been against teams currently ranked No. 1 (Douglas Royals), No. 10 (Camosun Chargers) and No. 7 (VIU) in the nation.
“It’s not like we’re losing to bad teams – we’re losing to good teams, and we have close games,” noted Cascades right side Joel Kleingeltink. “The way we’ve got to fix that is to keep believing and keep fighting. It’s a 24-game season, and really, a lot of it comes down to making provincials and winning some key games there.
“We know we can beat any team in this league.”
Kleingeltink and left side Josh Togeretz tied for team-high honours with 10 kills apiece, while Kurtis Stromdahl had seven kills and two aces.
The Cascades volleyball teams have a bye week coming up, and return to PacWest action Feb. 6-7 at the College of the Rockies Avalanche.