Royals edge Cascades in five-set thriller

Connor Nickel and the Cascades pushed an elite Douglas Royals squad to the brink, only to fall in five sets on the road.

Connor Nickel and the Cascades pushed an elite Douglas Royals squad to the brink, only to fall in five sets on the road.

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team pushed one of the top programs in the nation to the limit on Friday evening, ultimately dropping a five-set decision on the road to the Douglas Royals.

The Cascades staggered the Royals, perennially among the elite teams in the PacWest conference and the 2016 CCAA national championship host, by winning the first set. Douglas battled back to win the next two, but UFV levelled the match at two sets apiece to force a fifth. The Cascades led by a couple points early, but the Royals reeled off a huge run to put the finishing touches on a 19-25, 25-18, 25-19, 23-25, 15-8 victory.

Douglas won the clash of undefeated teams to improve to 3-0, while the Cascades now sit at 2-1.

“It wasn’t the finish we were hoping for, but overall it was a great match for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “We played well in that first set, and we found our rhythm. We just had some trouble starting each set – that’s what got us into trouble. That made it difficult, facing an uphill battle.

“We had some unfortunate events at the end of the fifth set, but at the same time, we battled pretty well.”

Donen shifted fifth-year outside hitter Adam Chaplin to right side on Friday, and he gave the Cascades a different look against the Royals. Middles Connor Nickel and Dayton Pagliericci also had strong performances, and setter Adam Frederickson did a good job of feeding them the ball. Libero Isaiah Dahl was outstanding, with 20 digs.

The Cascades and Royals clash again on Saturday at the New Westminster campus, starting at 7 p.m.

“I feel confident about how we’ll be tomorrow,” Donen said. “We showed ourselves tonight we’re a good team.”

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