The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team had the No. 4-ranked team in the nation sweating profusely in the PacWest conference quarter-finals on Thursday evening.
But the Columbia Bible College Bearcats managed to overcome the Cascades’ gritty effort, clawing out a five-set victory (20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-27, 15-10) to earn a semifinal date with the top-seeded Douglas Royals tomorrow.
The Cascades’ season is finished, but head coach Kyle Donen could find no fault with his team’s compete level.
“We couldn’t have been more prepared – I thought we had a really good effort,” he said. “We battled and pushed them to the very edge. I have no regrets of how we played and what we did. It was one of the better team games we’ve been able to play in a while.”
The Bearcats came in ranked No. 4 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) national poll, but the Cascades came out swinging and took the first set. Trailing 11-10, they tore off nine straight points with Ryan Thain at the service line, and they finished it off from there.
The second set was a back-and-forth affair, with the Bearcats grinding out the last couple points. They maintained that momentum en route to victory in the third.
Fourth-year outside hitter Adam Chaplin came up huge for the Cascades in the fourth set. He was responsible for two lengthy serving runs to help stake UFV to a 23-18 lead, and after the Bearcats battled back to knot the score, he made good on the Cascades’ third set point with a huge solo block.
But in the fifth, the Bearcats raced out to a 9-4 advantage, and it proved too steep a mountain to climb for UFV.
Chaplin rang up an eye-popping 18 kills to go with five aces, and he and CBC setter Jason Warkentin earned their teams’ respective player of the game awards.
“He was a workhorse for us – he was doing a little bit of everything,” Donen said of Chaplin. “You can look at the stats and see some of the numbers, but we all knew as a team without even looking at the numbers that he was playing well tonight.”
UFV left side Kurtis Stromdahl chipped in with 10 kills, while libero Isaiah Dahl was flying all over the court to collect 22 digs.
Donen said he enjoyed working with this group of players, and noted they achieved one of their major goals by making it back to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
“Any new experience is a chance to learn,” the first-year bench boss said. “We experienced some highs, experienced some lows, and it’s all going to make us better in the future. I’m pleased with what we accomplished.”
– photos courtesy Kevin Light Photography