Royals come roaring back to edge Cascades in epic five-setter

Kara Williams and Mandelyn Erikson of the Cascades go up for a block during Saturday's game vs. Douglas.

Kara Williams and Mandelyn Erikson of the Cascades go up for a block during Saturday’s game vs. Douglas.

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team got off to a fantastic start, but the Douglas Royals responded with a furious finish.

The Cascades, coming off a three-set defeat to Douglas on Friday, were dialed in to begin Saturday’s rematch at the Student Activity Centre, winning the first two sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-18.

The CCAA No. 11-ranked Royals, though, clawed all the way back, taking the next three sets 25-12, 25-19 and 15-9.

Kelly Robertson of the Cascades comes up with a big block.

Kelly Robertson of the Cascades comes up with a big block.

The Cascades fell to 9-13, which leaves them fifth in the PacWest, while the fourth-place Royals improved to 12-10.

“Momentum is a finicky beast,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray noted afterward. “We had it early and couldn’t capitalize on it to get that third win. Then they grabbed the momentum, and it was hard to get it from them.

“We have to do a better job of slowing down their key hitters. In our big wins in the second semester, we’ve done a good job of that, but today we let their best players beat us.”

Left side Rachel Funk led the Cascades with 10 kills, and Gilray was pleased that three of his players – Kara Williams, Kelly Robertson and Amy Davidson – met or exceeded the team’s statistical standard for passing. Robertson and Davidson had 16 digs apiece, while Williams posted the Cascades’ best passing efficiency of the season.

Gilray lauded the speed with which the Royals ran their offence in the last three sets, and noted that his team had a hard time slowing down Douglas middle Autumn Davidson.

“We didn’t stop their best players from running their best plays,” he noted. “Some balls are going to score, but we have to make things more difficult for them.”

The Cascades volleyball teams wrap up the PacWest regular season next weekend with a home-and-home series vs. the Columbia Bible College Bearcats. The crosstown rivals play Thursday at Columbia Place, and Friday at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre. Games times are 6 p.m. for the women and 8 p.m. for the men both nights.

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