Blues turn back Cascades’ rally

Mandelyn Erikson and the Cascades fell in four sets to Capilano on the road. (UFV Athletics file photo)

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team saw its comeback effort come up short on Saturday evening, as they dropped a four-set decision to the Capilano Blues in North Vancouver.

The CCAA No. 10-ranked Blues won the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-18, but the Cascades bounced back to dominate the third – they raced out to a 19-11 lead and cruised to a 25-20 triumph.

UFV had the better of the play for much of the fourth set, building a 17-14 advantage. But the Blues responded with a 6-0 run out of a timeout to seize control, and though the Cascades were able to battle back and level the score 22-22, Capilano scored the last three points of the set to close things out.

The Cascades fell to 5-11, which leaves them sixth in the PACWEST, while the third-place Blues improved to 11-5.

UFV bench boss Mike Gilray felt his squad was out of sync in the first set, but were more connected in the second, third and fourth.

“I thought the team really responded and really got behind each other after that first set,” he analyzed. “We had good leads in all three sets, but they’re obviously a very good team with elite players. They’re the most experienced team in the league, and they were able to weather the storm in the fourth after we got hot.”

Capilano was coming off a 3-0 win over the Cascades in Abbotsford on Friday, and UFV was once again without the services of two starters – setter Jessica Funk and left side Kim Bauder – due to injury. Channelle Friesen and Kelly Robertson, respectively, started in their place, and Gilray also gave rookie middle Hanna Hieltjes her first career PACWEST regular-season start.

Robertson had a huge night, particularly on defence where she racked up an eye-popping 27 digs, twice as many as any other Cascade. She also notched 12 kills to lead the UFV offence alongside middle Monique Huber, who sparked the squad with key points in the third and fourth sets.

“It was a really good weekend as far as learning experiences,” Gilray said, noting that Hieltjes, Friesen, Robertson and Cassidy King all made their first starts of the campaign against Capilano over the two-game series. “We had some opportunities to win more sets both nights, but we just didn’t get the outcome we wanted.”

The UFV volleyball teams are in Victoria next weekend to face the Camosun Chargers. Games run Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).

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