Mariners rally in fourth set to hand Cascades their first loss

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Joel Kleingeltink (right) and the Cascades dropped a four-set decision to VIU on Friday. (UFV Cascades file photo / Tree Frog Imaging)

A fourth-set stumble cost the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team on Friday evening, as they suffered their first loss of the PACWEST season at the hands of the Vancouver Island University Mariners.

Both teams were undefeated heading into Friday’s clash in Nanaimo, and the host Mariners took the first two sets by matching scores of 25-17. The Cascades dug deep to win an epic third set 30-28, and appeared poised to extend the match when they went ahead 23-18 in the fourth.

But VIU, with Ryan Marcellus at the service line, reeled off five straight points to draw even at 23-23, and they earned four of the next six points to snare a 27-25 victory to close out the match.

“The first two sets weren’t great for us – we gave up a couple bad runs, and weren’t able to push back enough to bring it close,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen summarized. “In the third set, we did the opposite – we limited their runs, and when we had our chances, we took advantage.

“In the fourth, we just couldn’t finish. It got away from us. We should be playing in the fifth set right now, but it just didn’t go down that way.”

Cascades fifth-year right side Joel Kleingeltink had a tremendous performance at the service line with eight aces, and he and setter Adam Frederickson combined for 11 blocks. Left side Matt Whittall also had a strong outing, sparking the UFV squad off the bench.

The Cascades (3-1) get another crack at the Mariners (5-0) on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. in Nanaimo.

“I hope it gives us a little bit of extra motivation,” Donen said, reflecting on how the less-than-24-hour turnaround offers his team the opportunity to respond quickly after a tough loss. “It’s a quick turnaround for both teams, and we used our bench a little more today. Both teams used a lot of energy tonight, but both teams are used to playing at these times, and we’ll have to bring that energy again tomorrow.”

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