The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team defeated the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, the Vancouver Island University Mariners, in an impressive four-set effort on Friday night at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
The Cascades, a highly touted team in their own right at No. 7 in the CCAA national rankings, hadn’t won a set against the Mariners in two prior meetings this season. But they turned in a tough-minded performance on their home court, prevailing by scores of 25-21, 25-20, 16-25, 25-23.
The Cascades (12-7, third in PACWEST) and Mariners (15-4, second in PACWEST) renew hostilities on Saturday afternoon in the EFAC North Gym (1 p.m., pacwestbc.tv).
“It’s a huge win,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said. “It was probably our best passing match of the year, and Liv (setter Olivia Heinen) did an amazing job of running our offence.
“For us, we’re just looking to continue to get better each night and be peaking at the right time of the year. Coming into these last few weekends, everyone’s solidifying their roles and getting comfortable playing beside each other, and getting ready and prepared to do what they need to do to help the team win.”
In the opening set, Cascades left side Kim Bauder dominated from the service line with a three-point streak highlighted by an ace to help the hosts build a lead, with Heinen and middle Hanna Hieltjes provided strong blocking at the net. The Mariners stayed within striking distance, but UFV’s Amanda Matsui finished off the set with back-to-back kills.
Heinen continued to feed Bauder, Hieltjes and Matsui to keep the momentum flowing in the second set, but the team’s passing weakened in the third set and they fell behind 10-6. Bauder brought the energy back with a series of kills but the Mariners pulled away late in the set to extend the match.
In the fourth set, Hieltjes and Cassidy Pearson turned the momentum UFV’s way with a few solid blocks. Bauder gave the Cascades a 20-17 lead after a pair of kills and another ace, and they fended off the Mariners from there.
Matsui and Bauder both had outstanding all-around performances. They each registered 20 digs, and racked up 16 and 13 kills, respectively. Hieltjes notched eight kills on 16 swings to give the Cascades great offensive balance, and Heinen posted 46 set assists.
– by Raelyn O’Hara, Cascades communications assistant