Print Edition: February 6, 2013
One of the most highly anticipated matchups in UFV women’s volleyball history took place this weekend at the Envision Athletic Center (EAC). Rolling into town was the number two team in the country, the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners to challenge the number one nationally-ranked Cascades. Adding to the excitement was the fact that VIU has been the only team this season to hand the Cascades a loss all year.
On the first night of the weekend doubleheader the teams did not disappoint. The match went back and forth and eventually came down to a close fourth set with VIU up 2-1 in sets looking to close out the upset. The fourth set was an exciting back and forth battle between the two teams with some dramatic rallies that left the crowd in amazement several times. Credit to the visiting team, the Mariners, for making some exceptional saves to keep the ball alive and taking the set 25-20 to send the Cascades home for the night with their second loss of the season.
On day two of the matchup a different Cascades team came out to play right out of the gates. On the previous night they had dropped the first two sets and immediately had to play from behind for the entirety of the night, and apparently the Cascades did not plan on doing that two nights in a row. The women came out and made no mistake in putting away the visitors in two efficient sets (25-23, 25-15). It seemed at that point as though the Cascades might just sweep the Mariners away in three sets, but with their backs up against the walls the VIU squad came up big with two quick sets of their own (25-16, 25- 19). With the momentum shifting again the two teams were forced to play it out in a final and deciding fifth set. Despite the constant cheering and congratulatory atmosphere that comes with most volleyball games there was obvious tension in the air. The Cascades made no mistake in the final frame, taking the set 15-11 and while doing so, justifying their number one national ranking.
The Cascades received huge contributions from a variety of sources throughout their squad over the weekend. Most notable was the play of fifth-year vet Katie Bilodeau as well as the stellar play of first-year setter Kira Tome over the two matches. In explaining what the difference between the two nights was for the team, Kayla Bruce, a veteran Cascade in her fifth year, spoke of the pressure of defending a national ranking. “I think there was a lot of pressure put onto our Friday night game which may have heightened nerves,” stated Bruce. On the Saturday game Bruce put it simply in saying that the number one spot was on the line and it was a matter of pride: “We knew what we had to do. We really wanted to defend that number one position.”
With this weekend’s effort the Cascades will very likely stay on top of the national rankings for another week, and they will continue extending their legacy in one of the most successful regular seasons UFV volleyball has ever seen.