After Cascades cool off, Royals rally for quarter-final win

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team saw its season come to an end at the hands of the Douglas Royals on Thursday evening, falling in four sets in the PACWEST quarter-finals.

Playing before a raucous home crowd at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, the No. 4-seeded Cascades were firing on all cylinders in the first set, blitzing the No. 5 Royals 25-16. But Douglas was the sharper team from that juncture, winning the next three hard-fought sets by scores of 25-21, 25-22 and 25-22.

The Royals advance to Friday’s semifinals, where they’ll face the top-seeded Vancouver Island University Mariners at 8 p.m. at the EFAC.

“I definitely don’t think we had our best game – we might have had our best set of the year, but one set doesn’t really do enough for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen noted. “We weren’t able to maintain the consistency for the match.

“I thought we were doing everything well in that first set, and each set after that, we kind of lost something. And unfortunately by that final set, even though it was a little bit close, we were still battling from behind. That’s never an easy position to be in.”

The Cascades had great crowd support, playing on their home court.

Ben Friesen was the Cascades’ player of the match, racking up a game-high 13 kills. Also chipping in offensively for the hosts were Matt Whittall (eight kills, three aces), Dayton Pagliericci (eight kills), Nick Bruce (seven kills) and Josh Fefchak (six kills). Setter Adam Frederickson registered a team-best 11 digs, and libero Evan Bell-Foley had nine.

Thursday’s result closed the book on Bruce’s five-year career with the Cascades. The senior from Surrey, B.C. had an outstanding campaign, earning PACWEST first team all-star honours.

Douglas setter Jared Collin ran an efficient attack over the last three sets, racking up 43 assists and earning his team’s player of the match nod. He set the table for three of his teammates to post double-digit kills: Justin Faester (11), Reid Marriott (10) and Jerry Yan (10). Middle Eric Sundmark led a Royals blocking effort that yielded a combined eight blocks.

“It was pretty great to host and to have that atmosphere,” Donen said, reflecting on the chance to play at home for the PACWEST volleyball championships. “We definitely felt the full extent of it in that first set. Unfortunately there was only so much the crowd could do to get us back on track, and we fell a little bit short. But it was an unreal atmosphere . . . and to know that the community is behind us is special.”

Four semifinals on Friday

Friday’s semifinal schedule at the PACWEST men’s and women’s volleyball championships is as follows:

1 p.m. | WVB | No. 2 VIU Mariners vs. No. 3 UFV Cascades

3 p.m. | MVB | No. 2 Capilano Blues vs. No. 3 Camosun Chargers

6 p.m. | WVB | No. 1 Douglas Royals vs. No. 4 Capilano Blues

8 p.m. | MVB | No. 1 VIU Mariners vs. No. 5 Douglas Royals

Dayton Pagliericci rises up for one of his eight kills.

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