In a clash of nationally ranked men’s volleyball teams, the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades fashioned an impressive four-set triumph over the Douglas Royals on Friday evening.
The Cascades made their debut in the CCAA national rankings this week, checking in at No. 12, and they validated that billing – and made a case to move up – by knocking off a higher-ranked foe in the No. 8 Royals. Set scores were 25-23, 23-25, 25-20 and 25-22.
Cascades head coach Kyle Donen termed it “a weird one,” and for good reason. In the first set, the Royals surged ahead before the Cascades clawed their way back to win, and it was the opposite situation in the second – UFV was up big early, but left the door open for a Douglas comeback.
“Every set kind of went that way, except the last one,” Donen noted with a wry chuckle. “We were able to hold onto our lead and finish the game off at the right time.
“We had a bit of that killer instinct towards the end. When we needed to get big points, we were able to get them. At the end of the day, we were able to finish them off and we feel good about that. Hopefully we can carry it into tomorrow and be even better.”
Friday marked the Cascades’ fifth straight home victory to start the season, and they improved to 6-2 overall to tighten their grip on second place in the PACWEST. The Royals (4-3) sit third. The two teams clash again on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Envision Athletic Centre South Gym.
Fourth-year left side Nick Bruce had a big night, racking up a team-high 16 kills and three aces. Fellow left side Ben Friesen (11 kills) and right side Joel Kleingeltink (nine kills) also chipped in offensively. Setter Adam Frederickson and middle Connor Pruim tied for team-high honours with four blocks apiece, and middle Dayton Pagliericci had three blocks of his own.
Donen also lauded the play of sophomore libero Evan Bell-Foley, who stepped into the starting lineup in place of an injured Isaiah Dahl.
“He did a good job,” Donen said of Bell-Foley. “Obviously you’re going to have some ups and downs, but most of it’s just getting comfortable on the floor. I expect with how he played tonight, he’ll be even better tomorrow.”