Two back-to-back games between the UFV Cascades and the defending national champion, the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners kicked off the season for this year’s women’s volleyball season.
The feeling going into the first game was that the Cascades might be overmatched by a team coming out of a championship season. What students and fans got Friday night was far from a blowout. The first set of the day was close, but the Mariners held onto a win to take a 1-0 set lead. The second period would prove to be the highlight of the entire weekend, as the Cascades confidently won the second set 25-11, their only set win of the weekend.
After the two-set mark UFV had it tied 1-1, a massive accomplishment for a team fighting with a defending champion. The third set saw VIU take a big early lead, but UFV stayed composed and brought an 8-16 deficit all the way to 20-22. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as the Mariners would take the third set 25-21. In the fourth, the Mariners’ championship experiences showed, and they were able to take the set 25-18 and win the match 3-1.
No team is happy with a loss, but a close season opener against the defending national champions was enough to get the crowd at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre fired up.
Saturday’s games opened up with a rematch between UFV and VIU, whose team started off hot. They took the first set 25-11 and used the momentum of the big win to take the second set as well. This wouldn’t be replicated by the Mariners in quite the same way, however, as the Cascades’ left sider #9 Amanda Matsui went on a serving streak to make the set interesting. The Mariners took the set 25-18, but it was one of the most entertaining sets of the weekend and the score did not reflect the high energy plays being made by the Cascades that kept them in contention for the set.
At this point, VIU was up two sets to none, but the Cascades were playing well in streaks, shrinking their first set deficit of 14 points to a seven-point loss in the second set. However, it would not be enough as VIU took the third set 25-19, completing the weekend sweep.
A weekend sweep is not the result the team was looking for, but the storyline was anything but negative as the Cascades got to measure themselves against a formidable opponent and test their skill and team play against the defending national champs.
“I thought they played really free today and had fun,” coach Mike Gilroy said after the game. “One of the great things about our team is, the girls who come out [of the game] are their biggest supporters. That’s only going to help us as the season goes on.”
With a weekend of valuable experience in the bag, the Cascades will travel to Cranbrook for a matchup with the College of the Rockies Avalanche (1-2) on Oct. 19 and 20 and look for their first win of the season.
Image: Giandomenico Ricci/flickr