Cascades shake slow start, defeat Avalanche in four sets

It took a while for the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team to get rolling, but they eventually built enough momentum to carry them past the College of the Rockies Avalanche for the second straight day.

Coming off a three-set triumph on Saturday, the Cascades dropped the first set of Sunday’s rematch at the Student Activity Centre. The second set looked like it would be more of the same, as the Avalanche built a 21-18 lead.

But Joel Kleingeltink’s tip shot found some open real estate on the hardwood to earn the hosts a side out, and he followed with consecutive aces to knot the score 21-21. The Cascades would go on to win the set 25-23, Connor Nickel capping it off with a resounding kill, and they would win the next two sets in succession to wrap up the weekend sweep (22-25, 25-23, 25-20, 25-21).

UFV (10-8) is fourth in the PacWest, while fifth-place COTR fell to 8-12.

“It felt like a bit of a sluggish game for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen analyzed. “We didn’t start great, which put us in trouble right from the get-go in each set. And the one set we did have a great start (the third), we kind of let them get back into it. We just need to focus on being a little bit more consistent.

Cascades setter Adam Fredrickson piloted a balanced offence on Sunday.

Cascades setter Adam Fredrickson piloted a balanced offence on Sunday.

“I thought they (COTR) played better tonight, and definitely pushed us a little more. But in the end, we were able to get the points when we needed them.”

Donen was pleased with the offensive balance his team showed, with Kleingeltink spearheading an attack which was guided ably by setter Adam Fredrickson.

With starting libero Isaiah Dahl dealing with a nagging injury, Donen took the opportunity to insert Nick Bruce at libero. Bruce, usually a left side, had missed some time earlier in the semester due to a knee issue, and is in the process of working his way back into the lineup.

“I felt like I needed to get him engaged in a game,” Donen explained. “He’s been having some good practices, he just hasn’t had a chance to get into full game mode.

“He did a great job tonight. He knocks off another position in his career with our program . . . he’s played middle, he’s played left side, he’s played libero.”

It was, in fact, the first time Bruce had ever played libero in his volleyball career.

“I was a middle through club season, and started the year at middle and left side,” he said with a grin. “It was nice to get back out there, and it’s a lot of fun playing libero. I really enjoyed it.

“It was a little bit of a slow start (for the team), obviously, but the communication was there and that made it really easy for me to come in and play libero. We started communicating better in the second and third set, and we just started playing the seamless offence we’re known for.”

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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