Avalanche middle blocker Spencer Janzen (middle) celebrates a point with his team earlier this season.

Avalanche middle blocker Spencer Janzen (middle) celebrates a point with his team earlier this season.

Avalanche conclude PACWEST volleyball season

College of the Rockies Avalanche men and women primed for provincial volleyball championships at Columbia Bible College

Men set to return to provincial championship after absence in 2015

After a year’s absence from the PACWEST Provincial Championships, the College of the Rockies Avalanche men’s squad is headed back to the annual tournament in search of B.C. collegiate volleyball supremacy.

The Avalanche wrapped up regular season action this past weekend at College of the Rockies, earning a split with the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners.

Friday, the Avs executed a 3-1 victory (15-25, 26-24, 25-19, 25-22) over the Mariners before falling to the visitors in straight sets (21-25, 22-25,18-25) Saturday.

Though the Avs took Friday’s contest with three consecutive set wins, the proceedings did not look favourable early on as the Mariners cruised to a 25-15 victory in the opening set.

“We’ve had a tendency, at home, to start out in the first set poorly,” said John Swanson, head coach of the Avalanche. “As a coach, it’s a little bit frustrating. It doesn’t matter who we play, they’re all competitive games and we’ve got to make sure we come out and take care of business right off the start.

“We didn’t pass well, then suddenly the sets were off and we’re not really hitting. The other team gets momentum. We were terrible that first set.”

A quick pep talk after the opening-set loss evidently brought out the best in Swanson’s men, who went on to win a nail biter 26-24 to even the score before claiming the final two sets.

“I had to basically call the guys out again and go through the same spiel about playing like men and being responsible for every touch,” Swanson said. “The guys stepped up. They performed like they can perform.”

Having ensured themselves of the fifth-seed and with no opportunity to move up in the PACWEST standings, Swanson opted to deploy a less experienced lineup Saturday as the Mariners cruised to a straight sets win.

“They played hard and they competed,” Swanson said. “Nobody likes to lose, but sometimes the process is more important than the actual end results. Guys have worked hard in practice and they deserved to play. It was good to get them some experience.”

With regular season action in the books, the Avalanche (9-15) finish fifth in the conference and return to the PACWEST Championship after missing out on the tournament in 2015.

The annual B.C. collegiate volleyball tournament gets underway beginning Thursday, Feb. 25 from Columbia Bible College (CBC) in Abbotsford.

The Avalanche are off this weekend as the rest of the conferences closes out the season. What remains to be determined is who the Avs will face in first-round action.

While Camosun College (19-3) and Douglas College (18-4) will take the top two seeds and earn bye past the first round, the fifth-seed Avs will face the fourth seed in the conference.

Heading into the final weekend, University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) is fourth, but within striking distance of third-place VIU.

VIU closes the season with a pair of games against the top-ranked Camosun College Chargers, while UFV takes on the last-place CBC Bearcats.

Columbia Bible College will host the 2016 PACWEST Volleyball Championship from Thursday, Feb. 25 through Saturday, Feb. 27.

PACWEST Men’s Standings1) Camosun College (19-3, 38 points); 2) Douglas College (18-4, 36); 3) Vancouver Island University (13-9, 26); 4) University of the Fraser Valley (12-10, 24); 5) College of the Rockies (9-15, 18); 6) Capilano University (5-17, 10); 7) Columbia Bible College (2-20, 4)

Ladies off to provincial championships for second consecutive year

The College of the Rockies Avalanche women’s volleyball team is headed back to the PACWEST Provincial Championships for the second consecutive year after finish the 2015-16 regular season sixth in the conference.

The Lady Avs wrapped up regular season action this past weekend at College of the Rockies, falling in back-to-back outings against the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners.

Friday, the ladies dropped a tightly-contested 3-2 match before falling in straight sets Saturday.

Despite falling 3-2 Friday, the Lady Avs battled back from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth and deciding set before coming up short 15-7.

“To come back from down 2-0 to take it to a fifth set, I was really proud of the ladies with their compete level,” said John Swanson, head coach of the Avalanche.

“I was impressed with the way VIU played, they defended really well.”

With the pair of losses, the Lady Avs (9-15) will absolutely finish sixth in the PACWEST standings and will face the third-seed in the first round of provincials. With one week of PACWEST action remaining, their opponent remains to be seen, with Capilano University holding down third place though fourth-place Douglas College is hot on their heels.

Columbia Bible College will host the 2016 PACWEST Volleyball Championship from Thursday, Feb. 25 through Saturday, Feb. 27.

PACWEST Women’s Standings1) Vancouver Island University (18-4, 36 points); 2) Camosun College (13-9, 26); 3) Capilano University (13-9, 26); 4) Douglas College (12-10, 24); 5) University of the Fraser Valley (9-13, 18); 6) College of the Rockies (9-15, 18); 7) Columbia Bible College (4-18, 8)

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