No. 1-ranked Chargers fend off Cascades’ upset bid, claw out five-set win

Cascades middle Dayton Pagliericci goes up for a block against the Camosun Chargers on Friday evening.

Cascades middle Dayton Pagliericci goes up for a block against the Camosun Chargers on Friday evening.

For the second time this season, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team came within a whisker of spoiling the Camosun Chargers’ undefeated record.

But the Chargers, who hold the No. 1 spot in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) national rankings, foiled the No. 15-ranked Cascades’ upset bid on Friday evening, much like they did the last time the two teams met back on Nov. 14 in Victoria.

In the earlier match-up, UFV won the first two sets, only to watch the Chargers claw their way back to win each of the next three sets by the minimum two points.

On Friday, playing before a raucous partisan crowd at UFV’s Student Activity Centre, the Cascades went up two sets to one, but couldn’t finish the job. Camosun prevailed (23-25, 25-21, 21-25, 25-22, 15-12) to push their PacWest leading record to 13-0, while the third-place Cascades fell to 7-6.

“The opportunity was there,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen noted afterward. “I think we let a couple balls slip away where I’d say normally we wouldn’t let that happen. In the end, it was some of our own errors that really hurt us.

“But I still don’t think we can be overly disappointed. That’s the first game back after a long break. We played well against the top team in the nation, and they had to throw everything at us to beat us.”

Given the electric atmosphere and emotional nature of Friday’s game, Saturday’s rematch (3 p.m., Student Activity Centre) is a must-see.

The Cascades claimed two of the first three sets, with the dynamic attacking of right side Joel Kleingeltink setting the tone. They fell behind by five points in the fourth set before rallying to tie, but the Chargers pulled away late to extend the match.

The fifth set was an emotional roller-coaster. UFV built an 8-6 lead, but Camosun scored the next five points to surge ahead 11-8. The Cascades mounted a rally of their own to draw even at 12-12, but the Chargers reeled off three points in a row to close out the match.

“I think we need to be the same on Saturday, and recognize that when we have our chances, we need to be better at finishing it off,” Donen said. “Other than a slow start in the fourth set, where we came back and almost took them, we’re right there.”

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