The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team’s six-game losing streak is a thing of the past, thanks to a three-set triumph over the College of the Rockies Avalanche on Saturday in Cranbrook.
The Cascades had suffered a deflating five-set loss on Friday vs. COTR, dropping the last two sets. They turned in a focused performance in the rematch, finishing each set strong (26-24, 25-22, 25-23).
UFV improved to 10-12, which leaves them fifth in PACWEST but just two games back of the third-place Camosun Chargers (12-10) with the Douglas Royals (11-11) in between. The sixth-place Avalanche wrapped up the regular season with a 5-19 record, and now wait to see how the Cascades fare next weekend in their own regular-season finales against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats. The Bearcats are 4-18, and are chasing the Avalanche for the conference’s sixth and final playoff berth.
“We were better in the end of sets today – consistently, all three of them,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “I thought we got off to a bit of a sluggish start, but we put pressure on them and stole the first set. And then we managed to be good in the late stages of the next two sets to power through. We did a better job of sustaining pressure when it mattered the most.”
The Cascades got a boost when kills leader Nick Bruce returned to the lineup after being sidelined due to injury Friday.
Ben Friesen paced the UFV attack with 13 kills, and Donen was pleased with the play of a trio of Cascades youngsters who played more extensive roles than usual. Ian Jagersma, a 6’10” rookie middle, made his first career start and registered five kills and three blocks. First-year setter Brendan Loewen and sophomore right side Graeme Hughes also stepped in and sparked the Cascades.
“I saw it as a good opportunity for us to continue to grow as a team,” Donen said. “We wanted to see some of our young guys in pressure situations, and they stepped up which was good to see.”
The Cascades volleyball teams return to Abbotsford for a home-and-home set with their crosstown rivals, the Bearcats. The series opens Friday at UFV’s Envision Financial Athletic Centre (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.), and the scene shifts to Columbia Place on Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).