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Women’s volleyball look to continue near-perfection

2013 was a year for the record books for the women’s volleyball team.

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By Nathan Hutton (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: January 8, 2014

Photo Credit The Real McKenzie Photography, Photo Courtesy University of the Fraser Valley

2013 was a year for the record books for the women’s volleyball team. Just about every night they could be counted on to dominate the competition, finishing their 2012-13 regular season campaign with a record of 22 wins and two losses, which was good for a first round bye in the PACWEST playoffs.

Their first playoff game came against the Capilano University Blues and, typically, was an easy win for the Cascades. Next up was the gold medal game, though as both teams had already secured their trips to the CCAA national championship tournament it had almost no meaning save bragging rights, which UFV claimed, winning three sets to none.

The Cascades left from the Abbotsford Airport for the CCAA tournament with one goal in mind: return with the coveted national championship banner. Their first contest was against the Mount Saint Vincent University Mystics from Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Mystics didn’t exactly lay flat for the Cascades, staving off a sweep by winning the third set 25-21, but UFV finished the game in the fourth, taking it three sets to one and securing a spot in the semifinals. The score was the same against Élans De Garneau from the Québec league, with UFV recovering from a slow start to win three sets in a row.

For their first-ever national gold medal game, the Cascades were up against the host Lakeland Rustlers. The Cascades didn’t waste any time, sending the game to its closing ceremony in three straight sets. In a near-perfect season, UFV won everything it could at the CCAA level.

The most testing part of 2013 for the program came in the summer as the Cascades said goodbye to Kayla Bruce, who collected multiple awards during her five years, including CCAA national player of the year; Kate Bilodeau; and libero Brittany Stewart.

As the 2013-14 season began, the biggest question was how the Cascades would be able to replace Bruce’s statistically dominant offense and defense (third in the league in kills and first in blocks), and the leadership she, Bilodeau, and Stewart provided. The team has answered with a seamless start to the year, going 12-2, with Jenna Evans and Krista Hogewoning taking the lead on offense and Kierra Noot and Emily Carroll in the top 10 in blocks.

2014 will see the Cascades having to react to their first loss in nearly a year to the VIU Mariners, which also dropped them from first to fifth in CCAA’s weekly national rankings. If the team wants to avenge the knock to their previously flawless win-loss record, they’ll have to wait until the playoffs. Until then, they have a road trip that takes them to the end of the month. Their first game back at UFV comes January 31 against Capilano, the start to the final six-game stretch of the season, all taking place in Abbotsford.

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