The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team concluded the PACWEST regular season in clinical fashion, defeating the Columbia Bible College Bearcats in three straight sets at the Envision Athletic Centre on Saturday evening.
It was the final home game for Cascades fifth-year right side Joel Kleingeltink, and as such, the stands were packed. The hosts squad sent the UFV fans home happy, prevailing by scores of 25-14, 25-17 and 25-18.
The Cascades (17-7) enter next week’s conference playoffs as the No. 2 seed and have a bye to the semifinals, while the Bearcats finished an 0-24 campaign.
“I thought we started every set really well,” said UFV bench boss Kyle Donen, whose team is ranked No. 6 in the nation. “I didn’t think we had great middle portions of the sets today, but we rose to the occasion when we needed to.
“Overall, it was a much stronger match for us tonight than it was on Thursday (a three-set Cascades win at CBC). I kind of expected that, too, given that we were at home and we’re a lot more comfortable here, and they’re a better home team than they are a road team. I think we took advantage of that tonight, and did some good things. We’re feeling better about what we’re doing, and looking forward to bringing that into next week.”
Kleingeltink punctuated his Senior Night by racking up a team-high 10 kills and an ace. Nick Bruce, Ben Friesen and Dayton Pagliericci chipped in with five kills apiece, and middle Connor Pruim had five blocks to go with four kills of his own.
“It was wild,” Kleingeltink said, reflecting on the packed house for his UFV home-court swan song. “Because the game started a little bit late with the girls going to five (sets), you started seeing how many people were trying to get into the gym – lined up out the door almost waiting for it to clear out a little bit. And during warm-up, usually I try to ignore the crowd, but I could hear it and see it and there were a lot of friendly faces out there. I had to try to acknowledge them.
“People have been supporting me my entire journey here, and just to see them all, it feels really special. But trying not to focus (on it) too much because this isn’t over. After five years, you kind of realize this is when the season actually starts . . . where you’ve got to pull everything together and make that playoff push.”
Donen described Kleingeltink as “a character guy who will be hard to replace.”
“He just brings so much as a captain and a leader to this team and to this program, and that (off-court) part will definitely be missed,” Donen said. “He showed that character tonight with that smile after a few of the big plays that he had. But the good thing is, we’ve got a couple more weeks to hopefully prolong that fifth-year career of his.”