The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team had its hands full on Friday evening against the reigning PacWest champions, dropping a three-set decision to the Vancouver Island University Mariners at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The Cascades played the Mariners tough in the first set before succumbing 25-20. In the second, VIU pulled away late for a 25-16 triumph, and they raced out to a 10-1 lead in the third en route to a 25-15 victory.
“I think offensively, we were doing a lot of the things we wanted to do in the first game – keeping the game close, point for point,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray analyzed. “Our serving is one of our big rocks, and it’s letting us down right now . . . it’s a good 10 per cent, every game, lower than where we want to be. I believe we have an excellent serving team. Right now I think there’s a bit of a mental block in there, of some people getting a little nervous back there going back to the line. We have to figure that out in practice, and continue to make it better as the season goes on.”
The Cascades (2-3) and Mariners (1-2) renew hostilities on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the EAC, followed by the UFV-VIU men’s game at 3 p.m.
Bright spots for the Cascades on Friday included libero Amy Davidson, who racked up 18 digs, and middle Monique Huber, who put away eight kills.
“It’s hard when things aren’t going your way to stay positive,” said Davidson, reflecting on the Cascades’ slow start to the third set. “We’ve just got to find a way to stick together and get the points.
“We’re going to come out really prepared, we’re going to get a good night’s sleep, and hopefully we’re exhausted (by the end of Saturday’s game), whether the win is there or not.”
Gilray was pleased with the play of Kelly Robertson, a natural left side who was shifted to the right side on Friday as part of the 6-2 offensive system the Cascades are running.
“Kelly’s been a left side for UFV for two years, and this week, out of necessity, we tried her on the right side and she did some really good things in practice,” Gilray said. “It’s going to be a work in progress for a couple more weeks, probably the whole first semester in hopes that we’ll continue to improve in that area and give more people different roles on the team that will allow us to stay connected.”