The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team left themselves precious little margin for error on Friday evening, falling behind by four points in the fifth set on the road against the Camosun Chargers.
The Cascades managed a remarkable comeback, though, erasing a 12-8 deficit and fending off three match points to claim the fifth set 18-16.
The victory (14-25, 26-24, 25-21, 23-25, 18-16) enabled UFV to improve to 14-3 and expand their lead over reigning PACWEST champion Camosun (9-6) in the race for second place in the conference. The two teams clash again on Saturday afternoon in Victoria to wrap up the two-game set (3 p.m. start, webcast at pacwestbc.tv).
“We didn’t help ourselves – we got off to an awful start in the fifth set and we were down four points at three different times,” said Cascades head coach Kyle Donen, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the nation.
“It was looking pretty dire, but at the same time, I said to the guys, ‘We were down by that much in the fifth set against Douglas earlier this year. So let’s do it again.’”
Sophomore middle Connor Pruim had a huge night for the Cascades, racking up team-high totals of 12 kills and five blocks, and combining with Adam Frederickson on the game-winning block. Left side Matt Whittall came off the bench to collect nine kills, two blocks and six digs, and Ben Friesen (11 kills), Dayton Pagliericci (nine kills) and Joel Kleingeltink (eight kills) also chipped in offensively. Libero Isaiah Dahl set the tone defensively with 23 digs.
The Cascades matched their win total from last season with seven conference games yet to play, and third-year bench boss Donen noted that Friday’s result marked his first-ever road win over perennial powerhouse Camosun.
“We’re continuing to move forward and grow as a team, and every time we step on the floor, we’re doing something different,” he said.
“We found a way to win again, that’s the biggest thing I can say. I don’t think it was our best game, and the fifth set wasn’t our best set. But we found a way to win, and that’s playing with a championship mentality.”