The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team fought through adversity to earn their most impressive win of the season, knocking off the Vancouver Island University Mariners in an epic five-setter on Saturday afternoon in Nanaimo.
The Mariners came in ranked No. 2 in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national rankings, and had handled the Cascades in four sets the night before.
UFV, meanwhile, has been weathering a wave of injuries. With starting middles Monique Huber and Mandelyn Erikson already sidelined, the Cascades lost left side Kelly Robertson to a knee injury near the end of the fourth set. But though their depth was tested, the Cascades passed with flying colours, finishing off the upset victory (24-26, 25-20, 21-25, 25-21, 15-9).
UFV improves to 7-9, while PacWest-leading VIU falls to 13-3.
“The depth of our team showed – we had four first-year players on the floor in the fifth game,” Cascades head coach Mike Gilray noted, alluding to middles Keira Fisher and Brielle Campbell, left side Chelsea Kidd, and right side Kara Williams. “For those girls to be come in and be able to compete was awesome.
“Overall, a great team win.”
The Mariners clawed out a two-point triumph in the first set and built a 19-16 edge in the second, but the Cascades responded with a 9-1 run to close out the set and get back on even terms.
VIU scored the last four points in the third to win 25-21, but UFV responded with a 25-21 win of its own in the fourth.
Cascades fifth-year setter Nicole Blandford was red-hot from the service line throughout the game, and she sparked her squad in the fifth set, staking them to a quick 5-0 lead. The Mariners were never able to get the deficit below three points.
“Nicole had just an unbelievable game from the service line,” Gilray enthused. “She dominated every time she went back.
“I think we’ve shown in our last three weekends that if we’re into the game and focus, we can compete with anyone in the PacWest.”