COTR Avalanche men lose back-to-back home matches to VIU

Volleyball team picks up single set win, drop to 1-7 record as they struggle with consistency

After earning a victory on the road, the Avs returned to their home court on Friday with a new sense of confidence.

Unfortunately, the College of the Rockies men’s volleyball team didn’t show consistent enough play over the weekend and lost back-to-back matches to the Vancouver Island University Mariners.

“We did a bunch of things well, but to beat a team like VIU we have to play the whole way,” said head coach Cisco Farrero on Saturday afternoon. “[On Friday], we had a lead in the first set and we could have taken it. VIU opened the door for us a few times and we have to learn how to knock that door down and charge right through it.”

In the first match on Friday night, Farrero’s team was incredibly competitive. Despite hosting a 4-2 Mariners squad, who made it to the CCAA National tournament last year and have the PACWEST’s reigning MVP Braydon Brouwer, the Avalanche weren’t intimidated.

Holding a lead throughout the first set, the team eventually fell 25-20. The next set was similar ending with an identical scoreline as the opener.

In the third, COTR fought until the bitter end and forced the Mariners to earn a 28-26 victory and sweep the first match.

Leading the way offensively for the Avs, was outside hitter Julio Lins and middle blocker Breno Fabbri, who had eight and seven kills, respectively. Unfortunately, the team also faced struggles from the service line, with Matt Cespedes — who had five kills — picking up four errors, and Lins collecting three errors.

In the teams’ rematch on Saturday afternoon, the Avs took one step forward and a few back. While they fought in a 25-21 loss in the opening set and earned a huge 25-17 win in the second, they fell into old habits to finish off the match.

“I don’t think we controlled the ball quite as well [after the second],” Farrero said. “Our serving wasn’t as good later in the match [and] we weren’t able to get VIU out of what they wanted to do.

“[Then], later in the match, Brouwer really took it to us and we didn’t answer because we didn’t control the ball well enough to give it back to them.”

Dropping sets three and four each 25-16, the Avs walked away with a definite sense of unfinished business.

“[VIU are] good and they advanced in nationals for a reason, [but] I think we definitely could have taken one of the matches this weekend,” Farrero said. “We just need to really put it together. I think we learned a lot of lessons this weekend [though, and] can definitely use that to build for next weekend’s road trip.”

In the second match loss, the Avs were led by setter Chris Dzioba, who had 11 digs, three kills, 26 assists and two service aces. Zach James also had a solid match with eight digs and seven kills.

While the set win, their first at home this year, certainly felt nice, Farrero wasn’t pleased that the team couldn’t achieve more.

“There are no moral victories anymore,” he said. “There is nothing to be gained from winning just one set. We have to find a way to win the match.

“Are we improving? Yes, absolutely, [but] we’ve got to turn moments of greatness into consistent greatness.”

With the pair of losses, the COTR men are now tied for last in the PACWEST with the Columbia Bible College Bearcats (CBC). At 1-7, the Avs will be looking to rise in the standings in their upcoming road trip.

Travelling to CBC on Thursday and Friday, and then facing the University of Fraser Valley Cascades on Saturday and Sunday, the four matches will be the last of the semester.

“[We’re going to work on our] serving, [our] receiving to attack and then there will be some specific things for CBC and UFV,” Farrero said. “We only have two days of practice [so] we’ve got to make sure we’re healthy.”

The COTR men are currently tied for last place in the PACWEST with a 1-7 record. They will have a chance to move up in the standings against CBC (1-7) and fifth-place UFV (3-5).

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