UFV Sports Thursday – Playoff Volleyball Opener

Men’s Volleyball: After Cascades cool off, Royals rally for quarter-final win

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team saw its season come to an end at the hands of the Douglas Royals on Thursday evening, falling in four sets in the PACWEST quarter-finals.

Playing before a raucous home crowd at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, the No. 4-seeded Cascades were firing on all cylinders in the first set, blitzing the No. 5 Royals 25-16. But Douglas was the better team from that juncture, controlling the next three sets and winning by scores of 25-21, 25-22 and 25-22.

The Royals advance to Friday’s semifinals, where they’ll face the top-seeded Vancouver Island University Mariners at 8 p.m. at the EFAC.

“I definitely don’t think we had our best game – we might have had our best set of the year, but one set doesn’t really do enough for us,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen noted. “We weren’t able to maintain the consistency for the match.

“I thought we were doing everything well in that first set, and each set after that, we kind of lost something. And unfortunately by that final set, even though it was a little bit close, we were still battling from behind. That’s never an easy position to be in.”

Ben Friesen was the Cascades’ player of the match, racking up a game-high 13 kills. Also chipping in offensively for the hosts were Matt Whittall (eight kills, three aces), Dayton Pagliericci (eight kills), Nick Bruce (seven kills) and Josh Fefchak (six kills). Setter Adam Frederickson registered a team-best 11 digs, and libero Evan Bell-Foley had nine.

Thursday’s result closed the book on Bruce’s five-year career with the Cascades. The senior from Surrey, B.C. had an outstanding campaign, earning PACWEST first team all-star honours.

Douglas setter Jared Collin ran an efficient attack over the last three sets, racking up 43 assists and earning his team’s player of the match nod. He set the table for three of his teammates to post double-digit kills: Justin Faester (11), Reid Marriott (10) and Jerry Yan (10). Middle Eric Sundmark led a Royals blocking effort that yielded a combined eight blocks.

“It was pretty great to host and to have that atmosphere,” Donen said, reflecting on the chance to play at home for the PACWEST volleyball championships. “We definitely felt the full extent of it in that first set. Unfortunately there was only so much the crowd could do to get us back on track, and we fell a little bit short. But it was an unreal atmosphere . . . and to know that the community is behind us is special.”

Four semifinals on Friday

Friday’s semifinal schedule at the PACWEST men’s and women’s volleyball championships is as follows:

1 p.m. | WVB | No. 2 VIU Mariners vs. No. 3 UFV Cascades

3 p.m. | MVB | No. 2 Capilano Blues vs. No. 3 Camosun Chargers

6 p.m. | WVB | No. 1 Douglas Royals vs. No. 4 Capilano Blues

8 p.m. | MVB | No. 1 VIU Mariners vs. No. 5 Douglas Royals

Women’s Volleyball: Cascades weather early storm from Avalanche, rally for four-set win in playoff opener

A slow start gave way to a furious finish for the University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team, as they rallied to beat the College of the Rockies Avalanche in their quarter-final match at the PACWEST championships Thursday evening.

The No. 3-seeded Cascades, playing host to the tournament at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, struggled mightily in the opening set, committing 15 unforced errors en route to a 25-18 loss. The No. 6 Avalanche, meanwhile, were thriving at the net, stymieing UFV’s outside hitters with tough blocking.

The Cascades found their mojo midway through the second, though, taking the next three sets by scores of 25-22, 25-15 and 25-21. They move on to face the No. 2 Vancouver Island University Mariners in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Friday.

“I’ve been watching the Olympics, and they talk about being on the wrong side of the inch,” Cascades head coach Mike Gilray said afterward. “That’s a quote I gave the girls this week. It’s a curling term. It’s like you’re so close, but you’re just on that wrong side.

“I felt like that was our first set. We were just missing balls – just off the sidelines, some tape serves, a serve out the back. What we talked about was, the great teams keep grinding when they’re struggling. They don’t freak out. That’s what we were doing in that first set – just grinding, grinding, grinding. It just happened that everyone was grinding at the same time.

“We brought down our unforced errors (after the first set), and I think we controlled the match for a large part.”

Sophomore middle Hanna Hieltjes turned in a performance that was both consistent and dynamic – she hammered 12 kills to give the Cascades great offensive balance, hitting at 43 per cent. She was named UFV’s player of the match.

PACWEST first team all-star Amanda Matsui led the Cascades in both kills (16) and digs (15), coming alive as the match wore on. Kim Bauder (eight kills) and Kara Williams (seven kills) also chipped in offensively for the hosts, and Olivia Heinen set the table with 47 set assists. Bauder (13) and libero Cassidy King (11) joined Matsui in double-figure digs.

For the Avalanche, right side Mikaela Pushor picked up player of the match honours after notching seven kills. Taylor Whittall and Megan Beckett registered eight and six kills, respectively. Abigail Horsch racked up three of COTR’s 10 blocks, and libero Ashley Huberts – an Abbotsford product – had a team-best 15 digs.

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