As three-set matches go, Thursday’s clash between the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team and the Capilano Blues couldn’t have been much closer.
But in the end, the host Blues were able to make more plays down the stretch of each set, edging the Cascades in three straight (25-23, 25-23, 25-22) in a clash of nationally ranked squads.
The CCAA No. 6-ranked Blues boosted their PACWEST-leading record to 16-3, while the No. 14 Cascades fell to 9-8, good for third in the conference.
“It was a little bit frustrating,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen acknowledged. “Even though I don’t think we played as well as we could have, I think we played well enough to win. We missed opportunities that they ended up capitalizing on. We did some really good things, but we struggled to execute down the stretch when we needed to, to grab a set.”
The first two sets were closely contested affairs, with the host Blues able to claw out key points late. The third was shaping up to be a blowout, with Capilano racing out to a 12-2 lead, but the Cascades were able to battle all the way back to tie the set 20-20 on a Dayton Pagliericci kill. The Blues, though, scored four of the next five points en route to victory.
Nick Bruce posted 10 kills and 10 digs to lead the Cascades in both categories, and he matched Josh Fefchak for team-high honours with three blocks. Ben Friesen registered seven kills and an ace, and Graeme Hughes and Justin Peleshytyk had strong contributions off the bench to spark the third-set comeback.
“Definitely happy with how we walked out of there, being down as much as we were in the third set,” Donen noted. “Definitely would have liked to see us steal one, though. It was close; I just wish we’d had a little more sense of urgency at the end of sets to earn a win.
“I hope the guys use it as a drive to be that much better on Saturday.”
After a day off, the UFV and Capilano volleyball programs reconvene in North Vancouver on Saturday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.).