Sports

Men’s volleyball team splits weekend series against reigning national champions

This past weekend, the UFV men’s volleyball team continued their early-season play with a pair of games against the defending national champion CBC Bearcats.

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By Kyle Balzer, Michael ScoularEmail

Date Posted: October 27, 2011
Print Edition: October 26, 2011

This past weekend, the UFV men’s volleyball team continued their early-season play with a pair of games against the defending national champion CBC Bearcats.

The Cascades came to play Friday night as they took a seven-point lead about mid-way through the first set. However, the Bearcats made a strong comeback to take the first set 25-23.

According to coach Greg Russell, the first set was one of their best of the season so far. “Definitely a lot of hard work and emotion went into the first set, but we just weren’t able to sustain the level of play and we need to continue to grow from those experiences.”

The entire team played solid second set, with setter Aaron Flanagan making some impressive plays and middle Trevor Nickel dominating on the defence. The Cascades fell short in the second set once again by a score of 25-20.

“Everyone played well and everyone contributed in their own way, especially our setters,” said coach Russell.

Despite UFV’s strong efforts, CBC managed to pull away in the third set by a score of 25-14 and the match 3-0. Aaron Flanagan contributed 10 kills and five digs, while team captain Alec Dumerton had six kills and three digs.

Although the team is technically prepared for anything, coach Russell feels that the team needed to be more prepared mentally. He explained after Friday’s loss, “I think that we have the ability to beat any of the other teams, but there is also psychological toughness. We need to perform regardless of the situation and not worry so much about the result.”

All that would change on Saturday night, as the Cascades fought back and overcame the visiting Columbia Bible College Bearcats.

All five of the game’s sets were hard fought and close in score, but in the first two it was the visitors who were looking like winners. Following a hotly contested opening set in which a series of timeouts seemed to stem the tide in either direction, the Bearcats took the lead, winning the first set 25-22, with little opposition towards the end. Things got worse, as the visitors broke the game open in the second. Tied at 10 points apiece, Will Quiring, coming off last weekend where he set a school record for kills in a single game, assumed control, achieving in consecutive plays two blocks, a kill, and two serves leading to Bearcat points. The Cascades could not recover, the five points separating the two teams the widest margin of victory in the game.

In the following sets, the Cascades again fell behind, but Levi Devries supplied some key kills in the third set, leading to UFV’s first set win of the night. Last year’s all-star Aaron Flanagan could be seen pounding the ground following unsuccessful dives, the crowd supplied some noise after watching the earlier women’s game in silent awe, and despite the feeling that their comeback might only result in one set to their credit, the Cascades surged from a 14-7 deficit to draw even with CBC, no longer looking as unbeatable as before. A series of mistakes on the Bearcats’ side and some key plays from Dillon Collett in the fifth set allowed the Cascades to claim victory and return to .500 on the year.

Coach Russell commented on the game’s progression: “The big thing was giving up strings of points, even two in a row, at the end of sets. It’s been a problem, performing steadily…” Last year’s team after winning its first game of the season, as it happened this year as well, went on a four game losing streak in which not a single set was won beginning with a loss against Columbia. Coach Russell described it as “a hurdle for us to be able to adjust like that, this early in the season, and to fight through like that.”

How the team moves forward from this dramatic turnaround will be seen on campus, as their next three opponents (College of the Rockies, Vancouver Island University, Capilano University) will be coming to play at the Envision Athletic Centre.

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