The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball earned a signature victory on Friday evening in Nanaimo, upending the Vancouver Island University Mariners in a five-set thriller.
Both teams came into Friday’s action ranked nationally – the Mariners at No. 3 in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association poll, and the Cascades at No. 14.
The hosts clawed out a 28-26 win in the first set, but UFV bounced back to take the next two by scores of 25-23 and 25-21. The Mariners squared the match with a 25-22 triumph in the fourth, but the Cascades rallied to win the all-deciding fifth 15-12.
UFV (6-5) and VIU (9-2) tangle again on Saturday in Nanaimo (3 p.m., pacwestbc.tv).
“It’s huge for us,” said Cascades fourth-year head coach Kyle Donen, noting that it was his first road win at VIU. “It’s a really good feeling for us to get a win like that against a solid team, and we’re feeling good about being on the road. That’s one of the bigger road wins we’ve had in a while.”
After splitting the first four sets, the Mariners built a 10-8 lead in the fifth, but the Cascades earned the next three points to prompt a VIU timeout. UFV kept it rolling – Brendan Loewen came off the bench for a pair of clutch serves, and a Nick Bruce kill made it 14-11. The next point went the Mariners’ way, but the Cascades’ Matt Whittall sealed the victory with a big swing from the right side.
Bruce (20 kills) and middle Dayton Pagliericci (15 kills) paced the attack, and Whittall chipped in with eight kills. Rookie left side Landon Uy stepped into the starting lineup in place of injured captain Ben Friesen and acquitted himself well, notching seven kills.
“I thought we were in it from the very beginning of the match,” Donen said. “The first set was the tough one to lose but I thought we changed the match when we won the second. We had a lot of different guys contributing, and overall, it was a great team win.”