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Abbotsford/Chilliwack – Men’s Volleyball: Chaplin, Cascades rally in fifth set to sink Mariners

In a game of wild momentum swings, the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team was fortunate to have Adam Chaplin’s right arm swinging on their behalf.

The Cascades appeared to be on their way to a relatively straightforward victory over the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Friday evening at the Envision Athletic Centre, leading by four points midway through the fourth set. But the Mariners erased deficits of 16-12 and 23-21, and ultimately prevailed 25-23 to force a fifth set.

VIU had the Cascades on the ropes, racing out to a 9-5 lead, but fifth-year outside hitter Chaplin helped reclaim the momentum – and fire up the home fans – with a pair of emphatic, resounding kills. He also had two highlight-reel digs which might have been even better.

It was fitting, then, that Chaplin was at the service line with UFV up 14-13 and a chance to close out the victory. After he launched one of his scorching jump serves, the Mariners never got the ball back over – Nick Bruce came up with a huge stuff block for the winning point.

The Cascades improved to 3-2, while the Mariners fell to 0-3. The two teams lock horns once again on Saturday (3 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre), preceded by a game between the UFV and VIU women’s volleyball teams (1 p.m.).

“It was definitely an emotional roller-coaster, but it was definitely a big win for us,” Chaplin said afterward. “In my five years here, this is the first game we’ve ever beaten VIU. It’s a big game for me, and for our team as a whole, coming off of last weekend (a pair of road losses to Douglas).”

The Cascades got a great team-wide effort on Friday, and the standouts were Chaplin and second-year middle Dayton Pagliericci, who was a force both offensively and defensively.

“He’s put together three incredible matches (in a row) that he’s going to remember for a while,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said of Pagliericci. “And now we expect that from him. He took the time to really get to know the middle on the other side and did a great job of containing him like we needed him to.”

Donen noted that his team “definitely did it the hard way” on Friday.

“We kind of lost our way there for a little bit there, and let them back into a match that we had in control,” he said. “That fourth set, we were in the driver’s seat and we kind of let them pull us over. I’d like to see us stay on the gas and finish it off. But in the end, we were able to come out with a win – and a win is a win.”

Women’s Volleyball: Defending PacWest champion Mariners beat Cascades in three sets

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team had its hands full on Friday evening against the reigning PacWest champions, dropping a three-set decision to the Vancouver Island University Mariners at the Envision Athletic Centre.

The Cascades played the Mariners tough in the first set before succumbing 25-20. In the second, VIU pulled away late for a 25-16 triumph, and they raced out to a 10-1 lead in the third en route to a 25-15 victory.

“I think offensively, we were doing a lot of the things we wanted to do in the first game – keeping the game close, point for point,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray analyzed. “Our serving is one of our big rocks, and it’s letting us down right now . . . it’s a good 10 per cent, every game, lower than where we want to be. I believe we have an excellent serving team. Right now I think there’s a bit of a mental block in there, of some people getting a little nervous back there going back to the line. We have to figure that out in practice, and continue to make it better as the season goes on.”

The Cascades (2-3) and Mariners (1-2) renew hostilities on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the EAC, followed by the UFV-VIU men’s game at 3 p.m.

Bright spots for the Cascades on Friday included libero Amy Davidson, who racked up 18 digs, and middle Monique Huber, who put away eight kills.

“It’s hard when things aren’t going your way to stay positive,” said Davidson, reflecting on the Cascades’ slow start to the third set. “We’ve just got to find a way to stick together and get the points.

“We’re going to come out really prepared, we’re going to get a good night’s sleep, and hopefully we’re exhausted (by the end of Saturday’s game), whether the win is there or not.”

Gilray was pleased with the play of Kelly Robertson, a natural left side who was shifted to the right side on Friday as part of the 6-2 offensive system the Cascades are running.

“Kelly’s been a left side for UFV for two years, and this week, out of necessity, we tried her on the right side and she did some really good things in practice,” Gilray said. “It’s going to be a work in progress for a couple more weeks, probably the whole first semester in hopes that we’ll continue to improve in that area and give more people different roles on the team that will allow us to stay connected.”

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