For the second straight night, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team fell in four sets to the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.
The results, though, were inconsequential – both teams knew going into the weekend where they’d finish in the final PacWest regular season standings, and who their first-round playoff opponent would be.
And that would be each other. The Cascades and Bearcats meet again next Thursday in the quarter-finals of the PacWest championship tournament, hosted by Camosun College in Victoria, with the stakes rising steeply from essentially meaningless to win-or-go-home.
“Tonight and yesterday, honestly, was a bit of a feeler weekend,” Cascades senior Kurtis Stromdahl said. “We ran with a bunch of different guys (lineup-wise) – it might not be something that we normally do. We’re just trying to get a good feel for the opposing team. We found out some things that we definitely need to do better, so we’re going to be working on that over the next couple days.”
The Bearcats, ranked No. 6 in the CCAA national poll, took the first set 25-18, but the Cascades bounced back to claim the second 25-20. CBC finished things off, though, with 25-17 and 25-19 wins to boost their record to 13-11, good for fourth in the PacWest. Fifth-place UFV fell to 7-17.
Graduating Cascades standouts Stromdahl, Josh Togeretz and Chris Schmitke were in the starting lineup on Saturday after being honoured in a pregame ceremony in what would be their final home game. Togeretz (11 kills) and Stromdahl (nine kills, three aces) set the pace offensively, while Schmitke notched four kills and six digs.
Stromdahl said Senior Night wasn’t as emotional for him as he thought it might be.
“I loved the huge crowd – that was great,” he said. “I was actually debating not playing tonight because I had a bit of a shoulder injury, but I figured I would never forgive myself if I let that happen. I had to go out and give it my best anyway, and I’m really glad I did.”
Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said he approached the weekend set vs. CBC as “a learning experience” for his squad against their future playoff foe.
“We have to go in there with the right mindset,” he said. “A team that’s been really good in the second semester has to beat us for a third time. No matter what level of play you’re at, that’s never an easy thing to do. We’ve just got to play with the confidence that we know we have.”