Cascades complete weekend sweep of Avalanche

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team dispatched the College of the Rockies Avalanche in four sets.

Coming off a victory on Saturday evening, the Cascades had a rare 11 a.m. start at UFV’s Student Activity Centre on Sunday. They prevailed (25-18, 23-25, 27-25, 25-22) to move into a tie with the Capilano Blues for third place in the PacWest at 9-9. The sixth-place Avalanche fell to 7-13.

“Today definitely felt better than yesterday, 100 per cent,” Cascades left side Kelly Robertson said. “It felt like we were clicking, and a fluid team, whereas yesterday it was more scrambly.

“It was all controlled (today). It was a perfect pass, and then it was a perfect set outside or a perfect set to middle, and then it was executed.”

Setter Nicole Blandford kept her hitters well-fed on Sunday afternoon vs. COTR.

Setter Nicole Blandford kept her hitters well-fed on Sunday afternoon vs. COTR.

“Speaking with the other coach too, I think we were both much happier with the quality of volleyball today,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray echoed. “It was a tough battle, and it was great to see the girls commit to small details, stay consistent, and be able to pull the win out.”

The Cascades picked up where they left off the night before with a seven-point victory in Sunday’s first set, but they fell behind midway through the second. Trailing 22-18, UFV reeled off four straight points highlighted by some tough Nicole Blandford serving to knot the score, but the visitors scored three of the next four points to level the match at a set apiece.

The Cascades won a hard-fought third set which extended past 25 points, and then managed to close things out in a wild fourth set. UFV appeared to be in cruise control, up 18-12, but the Avalanche stormed their way to eight straight points to seize the lead. A pair of sophomore left sides, Robertson and Rachel Funk, helped the hosts steal the momentum back, though. Funk drew the Cascades level with a kill and an ace, consecutively, then Robertson took over, pounding three kills in quick succession to help end the match.

The Cascades ran their winning streak to three games, and reached the .500 mark for the first time since October.

“I think the thing that stands out the most for the girls is that we’re doing it as a whole team,” Gilray said. “We’ve had injuries across the board, we’ve had illnesses, and different people have had to step up. . . . It’s helping create a tighter bond with the team.”

Blandford ran the offence efficiently, setting the table for the likes of Robertson and Funk, and libero Amy Davidson continued to provide strong passing.

“I really thought Kelly played her best volleyball at the end of the third and end of the fourth,” Gilray said. “She had some inconsistencies this weekend, but in the big points, she was hitting very key kills for us. She’s just jumping at a height that, coming off an injury, is unbelievable – hitting at her peak. When she’s doing that, she’s a very hard hitter to stop.”

The Cascades volleyball teams are on the road next weekend (Feb. 5-6), taking on the Capilano Blues. Their next home games are Feb. 12-13 vs. the Douglas Royals.

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