The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team will be heading into the playoffs with some momentum behind them, in the aftermath of a weekend sweep of the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.
The Cascades opened the home-and-home series against their crosstown rival by beating the Bearcats in three sets at Columbia Place on Thursday. They reprised that performance at the Envision Athletic Centre on Friday, winning by scores of 25-23, 26-24 and 25-16.
The Cascades (14-10) now advance to the PacWest championship tournament, which runs next week, Feb. 25-27, at Columbia Place. The Bearcats (2-20) finished seventh in the conference.
“It feels good to finish off that way,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “Just to know that we improved by eight wins from last year is a big accomplishment for our team. At the end of the day, we were able to get some guys in and prepare some guys for different situations, and I think that was important.”
The first two sets on Friday were hotly contested. With the score tied 23-23 in the first, Cascades left side Adam Chaplin came up big, notching a kill and an ace to close out the set. The hosts pulled out another two-point win in the second set, and closed things out in more decisive fashion in the third, as Connor Nickel and Chaplin both had aces in the late going to finish off the Bearcats.
It was a special night for the Cascades’ trio of fifth-year players, Chaplin, Nickel and Robert Bauerfind. They were honoured in a pregame Senior Night ceremony, and savoured the chance to perform one last time at the EAC in front of a vocal crowd.
Bauerfind said it was special to have a group of his friends from high school in attendance, hollering their support from the stands.
“This last game (at home) was one of my favourite games ever,” he said. “We played pretty well, I thought, and CBC played out of their minds. . . . It’ll stick with me for a long time.”
“At the beginning, it kind of felt like the first game I ever played at UFV,” Chaplin echoed. “It was just that same kind of feeling as the first match I ever started. There was some nostalgia in that.”
As the seniors made their home-court swan song, Donen was also able to get some of his younger players some game action, and the likes of middle Connor Pruim, outside hitter Ben Friesen and setter Dan Tang showed they’re ready to contribute if called upon in the playoffs.
As for his fifth-years, Donen noted that they looked uncharacteristically nervous in the first set, but found their groove as the game wore on.
“They all had their shining moment or two in the match, which was good to see,” he said. “I definitely think it’s something they’re going to remember, and hopefully they do take with them for years to come.”