Cascades women’s volleyballers fall to Blues in season opener

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team dropped a three-set decision to the Capilano Blues on Saturday evening to open the PACWEST regular season.

The Cascades looked great at times on their home court, the Envision Athletic Centre, building four-point leads the second set (17-13) and the third set (11-7). But both times, the Blues staged impressive rallies, ultimately winning the match by scores of 25-21, 25-21 and 25-20.

“We have standards we’ve created out of stats from past years, and we know what we want to hit,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said, noting that his team’s serving and passing were both subpar on Saturday. “When we miss those, it’s hard to beat a team with the ability of Cap. They’re going to take advantage of those errors.”

Mandelyn Erikson had an outstanding performance for the Cascades, notching 10 kills with a 79 per cent hitting efficiency.

Mandelyn Erikson had an outstanding performance for the Cascades, notching 10 kills with a 79 per cent hitting efficiency.

Saturday’s match was a case of delayed gratification for both squads – they were set to open the regular season on Friday at the EAC, but weather-related power outages resulted in the game’s postponement.

Monique Huber opened the Cascades’ PACWEST campaign with an ace, and she and Mandelyn Erikson formed a formidable duo in the middle for the hosts. Erikson finished with a team-high 10 kills while hitting 79 per cent, going 10-for-13 with no errors. Huber hit 40 per cent en route to five kills.

Libero Amy Davidson paced the UFV defence with 14 digs, but Gilray pointed out that his squad struggled with passing as a group.

“When we were in system tonight, we were doing some amazing things,” he said. “Our middles were outstanding, and for our middles to do well, you have to pass the ball well. What one of our coaches pointed out today was, we were either passing it well or really poorly. We had no middle balls. . . . Giving a team like Cap that many opportunities to score with free balls, they’re going to take advantage of that, and I think that’s what happened in those lulls (in the second and third sets). We just got away from consistency.”

Erikson said that Friday’s postponement caused “a lot of antsiness” in the team.

“It was a bit of a letdown, because I think we were all hyped up, and I think some of that hype might have turned into nerves overnight,” she said. “We were so excited, and we’re not used to not doing anything in a day – we didn’t practice, we didn’t play.

“We’re not going to use the excuse that it was our first game or anything, but we all haven’t really played together on the court (in PACWEST play) yet, so that was a big eye opener – things we did well and things we need to work on.”

The Cascades volleyball teams are back in action next weekend with a home-and-home set vs. the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, their crosstown rival. The two teams play Thursday at CBC and Friday at UFV – women at 6 p.m., men at 8 p.m. both nights.

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