A huge night from Nick Bruce ignited a thrilling comeback for the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team, but the Camosun Chargers fended them off in an epic five-set match on Friday evening at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
The visiting Chargers rolled to victories in each of the first two sets, 25-14 and 25-16, but the Cascades clawed their way back into it, taking the next two by scores of 25-23 and 25-21. UFV appeared poised to complete the comeback, building an 8-4 lead in the fifth, but the Chargers rallied to take it 18-16.
Fifth-year left side Bruce was the engine that drove the Cascades on Friday – he racked up 27 kills in a thoroughly outstanding performance. Nevertheless, UFV fell to 1-4 on the season, while Camosun improved to 4-1.
The two teams meet again on Saturday afternoon at the EFAC (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).
“After having a couple tough losses last week (vs. Capilano) and not playing very well, to come out and have good energy and find a way to come back from two sets down, that’s big for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “It shows we’ve gotten mentally stronger from the last week. We fell a couple points short, but we had our chances to win that one. Sometimes the bounces don’t go your way, but I think we can still be pretty happy that we bounced back from a tough weekend.”
Ben Friesen got the Cascades off to a good start with a four-point serving streak in the first set, but the Chargers swiftly assumed control and claimed the first two sets.
UFV started making some headway in the third set, with Josh Fefchak coming through with some strong serves and Graeme Hughes chipping in offensively. They continued that momentum in the fourth, with Fefchak and setter Adam Frederickson having a strong blocking presence and libero Evan Bell-Foley contributing some timely digs.
Bruce was spectacular in the fifth – he made a pair of highlight-reel digs to keep points alive and help the Cascades get out to an 8-4 lead, and later on, he had an emphatic kill off a back-row attack to end a long rally and give his team a 15-14 advantage. But the Chargers scored four of the next five points to seal the victory.
Beyond Bruce’s eye-popping 27 kills, Friesen also hit double digits with 11 kills of his own.
“This was a huge game for Nick, and I’m really proud of what he was able to do today,” Donen said. “After the second set, I said somebody else has to step up and earn us points, because he was doing everything. He wasn’t just getting kills, he made a couple of great digs in the fifth set, too. He gave us a chance to win – unfortunately we couldn’t pull it out for him.”
– by Raelyn O’Hara, UFV student communications assistant