MVB season preview: Cascades blend veteran talent with youthful potential

The University of the Fraser Valley volleyball programs embark on the PacWest regular season this weekend with a home-and-home set vs. the Columbia Bible College Bearcats. The crosstown rivals lock horns at Columbia Place on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.), before heading to UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre on Saturday for the Cascades’ home openers (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).

We take an in-depth look at the Cascades men’s team below.

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team begins the 2015-16 season in exactly the same fashion as the last one ended – playing the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.

This time, they’re aiming for a different result.

MVB 11x17 poster Oct12-15The Cascades, under rookie head coach Kyle Donen, returned to the PacWest playoffs last season after a one-year absence, and they met the Bearcats – their crosstown rivals – in the conference quarter-finals. CBC was ranked No. 4 in the nation and clearly favoured, but UFV took them to five sets before finally succumbing in heartbreaking fashion.

“Their team is very different from last year, but it’s a rivalry that stays true no matter what lineup is on either side,” said Donen, who begins his second year at the helm of the Cascades. “And I think the same goes for the fans. It’s a rivalry that people associated with the two schools are always going to enjoy.”

Donen enjoys a certain amount of roster continuity this season, with the opportunity to blend some youthful talent into the mix.

Leading the way for the Cascades this fall will be fourth-year right side Joel Kleingeltink. The Langley, B.C. product was named a PacWest second team all-star in 2014-15 after leading UFV in total offence (3.02 points per set, 15th in the PacWest) and ranking second in aces (0.41 per set, 10th in the PacWest). He also excelled in the classroom, earning CCAA Academic All-Canadian honours.

“He’s definitely moved into that leadership role,” Donen said of Kleingeltink. “He had an amazing year, and his goal is to build on that for this year.”

At the outside hitter spots, Donen can lean on the likes of veterans Adam Chaplin (fifth year), Nick Bruce (second year) and Robert Bauerfind (fifth year). Returnees Connor Nickel (fifth year) and Dayton Pagliericci (second year) man the middle, while sophomore libero Isaiah Dahl will look to build on an excellent debut.

Second-year man Adam Fredrickson and redshirt freshman Dan Tang are battling for playing time at setter, with Fredrickson having the advantage of experiencing PacWest gameplay last season.

Tang is one of six Cascades in their first year of eligibility, and Donen expects youngsters like outside hitters Ben Friesen and Levi Block – teammates at Abbotsford’s Mennonite Educational Institute last season – to push for playing time.

“I think some of the young guys are going to provide more of an impact than they even realize at this point,” Donen said. “And I think they’re going to be well-prepared for it when the time comes.

“At some positions, I think we have some of the best players in the league. I don’t see any reason we couldn’t strive to be in the finals of provincials, competing for gold, and striving to play at nationals in March. I think those are realistic goals we want to be able to achieve.”

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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