The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team saw its season end in heartbreaking fashion on Thursday night, as the College of the Rockies Avalanche prevailed in four sets in the PacWest quarter-finals.
Playing before a vocal pro-Cascades crowd at Columbia Bible College, UFV dropped two of the first three sets, but appeared poised to extend the match after building a 24-19 lead in the fourth.
The Avalanche engineered a stunning comeback, though, reeling off seven straight points to win the set and close out the match (25-23, 16-25, 25-23, 26-24). The Cranbook squad moves on to Friday’s semifinals to face the top-seeded Camosun Chargers.
“It’s definitely a tough loss for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said afterward. “I think we know we could have played better, and would have liked a better result. At the very least, we definitely should have been in a fifth set. It’s tough to lose that one the way we did. But that’s sport. That’s volleyball.”
The Cascades had beaten the Avalanche in three of four prior meetings this season, but they started slowly in the first set on Thursday. Donen turned to his bench for a spark, and outside hitter Nick Bruce, setter Dan Tang and middle Connor Pruim came in and helped UFV draw to within a point before ultimately succumbing 25-23.
While that rally fell just shy, the Cascades were able to carry the momentum into the second set, which they won handily.
But COTR managed to claw out another two-point win in the third, and they made their improbable comeback in the fourth with Zach Fedechko at the service line.
“We got a little shaky on our passing on a couple balls, and when we did pass the ball well, we couldn’t put it away,” Donen said, reflecting on the end of the fourth set. “It was just one of those things. . . . We’ll have to learn from it, and learn to be stronger next year.”
The end of UFV’s season also closed the book on distinguished Cascades careers for fifth-year starters Adam Chaplin, Connor Nickel and Robert Bauerfind.
“The result isn’t what they wanted, but I thought all three of them individually played really well tonight,” Donen said. “I thought they left it all on the floor. It might not be how they see it right now, but hopefully they can appreciate the careers they had with our school and appreciate what they were able to accomplish.”