A pair of University of the Fraser Valley volleyball stars have been honoured as all-stars by the PacWest conference.
Michelle Zygmunt of the Cascades women’s team and Joel Kleingeltink of the men’s squad were named second team all-stars on Wednesday.
Zygmunt, a 5’10” left side out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary, showcased a terrific all-around skill set in her first season with UFV. She ranked in the top 10 in the PacWest in total offence (3.29 points per set, sixth), kills (2.64 per set, sixth), aces (0.49 per set, seventh) and digs (2.88 per set, ninth).
“She does a little bit of everything,” Cascades women’s head coach Dennis Bokenfohr said of Zygmunt. “She had an injury at the midway point of the season, but after recovering from that, she’s coming more and more into form. She’s a mainstay on the court.”
Kleingeltink, a 6’4” third-year right side out of Langley Christian Secondary, led the Cascades men’s squad in total offence (3.02 points per set, 15th in the PacWest) and was second in aces (0.41 per set, 10th in the PacWest).
“He’s had a really good year,” UFV men’s head coach Kyle Donen said of Kleingeltink. “Earlier on in the season, teams started to realize they needed to key on him. He made himself a threat, and it forced a lot of teams to account for him on defence. That’s been an adjustment for him, and he’s done a good job with it.”
Cascades chase playoff glory in Victoria
The UFV volleyball teams have both qualified for the PacWest conference championships, which run Thursday through Saturday at Camosun College in Victoria.
The Cascades women (13-11) come into the tourney as the No. 4 seed, and take on the No. 5 College of the Rockies Avalanche (11-13) in the quarter-finals at 6 p.m. Thursday. The winner moves on to face the top-seeded Camosun Chargers in the semis at 6 p.m. Friday.
The Cascades and Avalanche split their four regular-season tilts – UFV swept a pair of games at home in October, and COTR returned the favour in Cranbrook earlier this month.
Bokenfohr has been pleased with his team’s recent form – they come into the playoffs on a tidy three-game win streak, highlighted by a victory over the Capilano Blues, who were ranked No. 9 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) at the time.
“Since Capilano, we’ve definitely had some good results on the scoreboard, but more than that, we’ve been playing the game the right way,” said Bokenfohr, whose team is currently No. 14 in the CCAA national rankings.
“We (UFV and COTR) obviously both took care of each other at home, and now we get to see at a neutral site who’s ready. It goes without saying we’re really focused on playing a complete game from each position on the court, and we’re confident in ourselves to execute the job really well.”
The fifth-seeded Cascades men (7-17) take on their crosstown rivals, the fourth-seeded Columbia Bible College Bearcats (13-11) at 8 p.m. Thursday, with the winner advancing to face the No. 1-ranked Douglas Royals at 8 p.m. Friday.
UFV went 1-3 against the Bearcats during the regular season – they split a home-and-home set to open the PacWest schedule back in October, and were swept in a pair of games vs. CBC last weekend.
The Bearcats went 3-9 in the first half of the campaign, but made a meteoric rise in the second semester thanks to key player additions and veterans returning from injuries. They currently occupy a lofty perch – No. 4 in the CCAA national rankings.
“I don’t mind having the underdog tag,” Donen said. “All year we’ve been trying to prove ourselves.
“I think we feel pretty confident in our game and what we’re capable of doing. At this point in the year, the regular season doesn’t really mean that much – it’s in the past already, and we’re looking forward to Thursday. Everything’s on an even playing field – CBC had a great second half, but we’re in the playoffs just like they are, and it comes down to one game and who performs best under pressure.”
All of the Cascades’ games at the PacWest championships can be viewed at sportscanada.tv/pacwest.