The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team was unable to complete a weekend sweep of the nation’s No. 3-ranked team, falling in four sets to the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Saturday afternoon.
The CCAA No. 7-ranked Cascades (12-8) had defeated the Mariners in a four-setter on Friday evening, but the Mariners (16-4) bounced back to take the rematch 21-25, 25-14, 25-20, 27-25 in the Envision Financial Athletic Centre’s North Gym.
“They’re a big blocking team, man,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said of the Mariners. “We were doing some good things and trying to mix it up (offensively), but not mixing it up to the areas of the court that we wanted to.
“It was just a really fun weekend, great energy. There were a couple untimely errors on our side today, but we came back with great resilience.”
The Cascades had a great start on Saturday, with setter Olivia Heinen feeding Amanda Matsui and Cassidy Pearson. Keira Fisher’s three-point service run staked the hosts to an 18-11 lead, but the Mariners crept back to within 21-18. But Matsui helped the Cascades wrap up the set, getting a pair of side-outs on back-row attacks before finishing the set with a kill.
The Mariners raced out to a 14-6 advantage in the second, and the Cascades were unable to recover despite bringing Chelsea Kidd and Kara Williams in off the bench.
The third set was tied at 13-13, but VIU surged ahead at that juncture and took it by a five-point margin.
The Mariners carried that momentum into the fourth, building a 12-6 lead, but kills from Matsui and Kim Bauder and a service run from Amy Davidson drew the Cascades even at 16-16. VIU pushed ahead once again and led 24-21, but UFV fended off three match points, capped by a huge block from Lauren Poirier. The Cascades had a match point of their own, leading 25-24, but VIU’s Mikayla Wagner extended the match with a kill, and the Mariners earned the next two points to seal the victory.
Matsui had a big game for the Cascades with 15 kills, 11 digs and five aces. Bauder notched eight kills and a team-high 14 digs, and libero Cassidy King had 13 digs. Cassidy Pearson had an efficient offensive performance with seven kills, and Heinen had 37 set assists.
Gilray was also pleased with the contributions his team got from Davidson, who excelled at the service line and in serve-receive off the bench, and from rookies Poirier and Alexis Edwards who sparked the Cascades in the fourth set.
The UFV volleyball teams are on the road next week, facing the College of the Rockies Avalanche in a Friday-Saturday series in Cranbrook.
– by Raelyn O’Hara, Cascades communications assistant