The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team picked up its most impressive victory of the season to date, knocking off the Douglas Royals in four sets on the road in New Westminster.
The Royals came in tied for first place in the PACWEST at 10-2, and owned the No. 2 spot in the CCAA national rankings. But after an inconsistent performance in the first set, the CCAA No. 7 Cascades battled back to win the next three (17-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-21) and claim the win.
The Cascades (8-5) and Royals (10-3) clash again on Saturday evening in New West (5 p.m. start, pacwestbc.tv).
“Douglas is a team that plays with a lot of emotion and energy, and our girls recognized that and felt we needed a little more ourselves,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said. “Our girls, despite a tough start to the night, said we love this game and let’s put our best foot forward.”
After being tied 5-5 early in the first set, the Cascades found themselves behind 10-5 after struggling with their blocks. Keira Fisher brought them out of the rut with two successful serves, but the Royals were able to re-expand their lead to 18-10. Gilray brought Kara Williams and Lexi Edwards off the bench, and while the Cascades weren’t able to erase such a significant deficit, they were able to build momentum.
UFV came out swinging in the second set to take an early 4-1 lead. With smart plays coming from the front row and tough serves from left side Kim Bauder, the Cascades surged ahead 12-6. The Royals’ hitters heated up to cut the UFV advantage to 16-15, but the Cascades steadied themselves and won the set comfortably.
Hits rained down from both sides of the net in the third set, which saw ties of 9-9, 13-13 and 17-17. The Cascades turned the tide in their favour with a 4-0 run at that point, and they finished off the set from there. Similarly, the fourth set saw close scores early, but the Cascades pushed their way to a 14-9 lead. The Royals got back to within three points, but Williams’s strong serves helped UFV close out the match.
Rookie left side Amanda Matsui had an outstanding performance, leading the Cascades in both kills (13) and digs (16). But it was the middles who were the difference-makers offensively for UFV. Fisher (10 kills) and Hanna Hieltjes (seven kills) were both prolific and efficient, with just one attacking error each.
“Hanna and Keira were just on fire,” Gilray noted.
Williams, playing right side for the first time this season, registered seven kills and hit .333. She also unleashed four aces, and the Cascades collected 14 as a team.
Cassidy King (12) and Bauder (11) both notched double-figure digs, and Olivia Heinen racked up 43 set assists.
– by Raelyn O’Hara, UFV Athletics communications assistant