Upset wins typically arrive like thunderbolts out of the blue, but the one that the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team earned on Saturday afternoon felt like it had been a long time coming.
In each of their previous two match-ups with the Camosun Chargers – Nov. 14 in Victoria, and Friday evening at UFV’s Student Activity Centre – the Cascades had suffered gut-wrenching five-set defeats.
There’s no shame in losing to the Chargers, far from it. They’re the reigning Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national champions, they’re currently ranked No. 1 in the nation, and they owned a flawless 13-0 record heading into Saturday’s action.
But the CCAA No. 15-ranked Cascades were eager to assert themselves as being among the nation’s elite, and on Saturday, they finally got over the hump against Camosun (21-25, 26-24, 25-22, 19-25, 15-9).
“This is huge,” UFV right side Joel Kleingeltink enthused afterward. “Obviously it’s a great team over there – national champions, undefeated first semester. And losing to them twice in five sets – once on their court, once on ours – it’s one of those things where you’re like, ‘Man, can we do it?’
“We had to prove to ourselves that we are capable of beating this team, and being one of the best teams in the country. We proved that tonight, which is great moving forward.”
After dropping the first set, the Cascades steadied themselves and won the next two. But after UFV built a four-point lead early in the fourth, the visitors clawed their way back and won comfortably to force a fifth set.
Camosun raced out to a 7-4 lead in the fifth, and Cascades head coach Kyle Donen acknowledged later that the thought “Not again” crossed his mind.
But the Chargers would register just two more points after that juncture, as UFV rode some tough serving from Joel Kleingeltink and Robert Bauerfind – and a lot of energy from the crowd – to a 15-9 victory.
The Cascades improved to 8-6, good for third in the PacWest, while the first-place Chargers are now 13-1.
“This gives us huge momentum and confidence going forward,” Donen acknowledged. “This is just one game in the second semester, and we know if we can string a few more like that together, it’ll mean more when it comes to the playoffs and everything else. For us to beat that team, and to do it the way we did, it’ll mean a lot for these guys.
“I thought Adam Chaplin played great tonight, and (libero) Isaiah (Dahl) made some key digs when we needed to,” Donen added. “The only thing that hurt us at times was some inconsistent serving, but luckily we found it in the end when we needed it most.
“In the end, we made a few more plays that really propelled us to a big win.”
The Cascades volleyball teams hit the road next weekend to take on the Vancouver Island University Mariners in Nanaimo. Games run Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).