Close sets break Mariners’ way, Cascades fall in four

Josh Fefchak and the Cascades fell in four sets for the second straight day to VIU. (UFV Athletics file photo)

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team battled tooth and nail with the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Saturday afternoon, ultimately dropping a four-set decision to wrap up the opening weekend of the PACWEST regular season.

Each of the first three sets was decided by the minimum two points – the visiting Mariners taking the first two by matching 25-23 scores, and the Cascades bouncing back to take the third 26-24. VIU pulled away in the fourth, though, to seal the victory by a more decisive 25-14 margin.

“It was a pretty close match – until the fourth set, it never really felt like it was out of reach,” noted UFV head coach Kyle Donen, whose squad also dropped a four-setter to VIU on Friday. “We were a play or two away from being able to steal one more, and make it a longer match. We had some improvements from the day before, which was good. We served really poorly last night, and tonight we were a lot more consistent.

“It was a good battle back and forth for both teams. It’s tough to lose the first two of the season, but I like that we got to play against a strong team – it prepares us well for what’s to come in the next couple weeks.”

Donen made four changes to his starting lineup on Saturday, inserting outside hitters Graeme Hughes and Justin Peleshytyk, middle Jackson Obst, and setter Bobby Blaskovits.

“All of those guys came in (off the bench) and did a bit of a job yesterday, and the way our team’s been practicing and competing, I thought they deserved to get a shot early in the season to get into a game,” Donen explained. “The type of weekend we just had is going to help us prepare for a difficult road weekend coming up. It’s good to know we have different guys who can get the job done for us.”

Ben Friesen, the Cascades’ fourth-year captain, had a big night, racking up 16 kills. Freshman Obst also excelled, hammering down eight kills to go with a block and an ace, and Hughes contributed six kills and three blocks.

Up next for the UFV volleyball teams is a road trip to Cranbrook, B.C., where they’ll face the College of the Rockies Avalanche next Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).

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