The Avalanche volleyball teams couldn’t dig out a win in their respective quarter-final matchups on Feb. 21 at the 2019 PACWEST Volleyball Championships.
The College of the Rockies women’s volleyball team started the action off against the Camosun College Chargers losing 3-0.
“It’s always hard to end it this way, but I can guarantee every player in here felt like they improved, they gained as players. — even off the court as student-athletes,” said head coach John Swanson.
While it wasn’t the year the team would have wanted with a 4-20 record, it was a year of learning.
Many of the younger players had more time on the court because of injuries and the travelling schedule.
“I think going forward with these first and second-year players, these kinds of experiences they can remember ‘how was I in that situation?’ we talked about it today in the game … the learning and the growth were fantastic for this whole season,” said Swanson.
Avalanche outside hitter Taylor Whittall explained leading up to the match she was excited and nervous.
“I had butterflies all day. So, stepping on the court today I looked to my team and tried to drown out the crowd … I needed it to be me and my girls,” she said.
Growth has been a major theme with the team and Whittall said it showed in their quarter-final game.
“Even from our last time playing Camosun, just a couple weeks ago from playing them tonight we did grow a lot. Unfortunately not enough to beat them,” she said.
There was only one fifth-year player on the team and that was Mikaela Pushor. This was the last game for the Avalanche captain, and she finished the game with six kills, 19 total attempts and a .316 kill percentage.
“She is incredible,” Swanson said. “She has played injured all season and never used it as an excuse, never used it as a crutch … she is just the constant leader on and off the court. I could not ask for a better captain, a better student-athlete, she’s just exceptional.”
The season might be over for the Avalanche, but the work never stops and Swanson is gearing up for recruitment.
“We have some that have already committed, and we have other ones we are talking to. We will do exit meetings with the ladies in this group, unfortunately, some we won’t have back, and they have been informed they are moving on for school purposes,” he said.
With the new wave of players coming in, Swanson says he wants to integrate them as soon as he can with working out and offseason programs.
“Get them up to speed as fast as possible so when they come in September they are already a little ahead of the curve instead of playing catchup, which is natural.
The men’s squad was up next to close out the first day of the PACWEST Championships, unfortunately, they fell 3-0 to the Vancouver Island University Mariners.
“The thing I was worried about, is exactly what happened,” said head coach Cisco Farrero.
“We did not control their best server at all. Keal Prince was tremendous for VIU, hats off to them. We trained for them all week and when we got to the moment we didn’t handle him at all.”
Farrero added ball control was an aspect in the teams game, which needed to be better.
“We didn’t handle the first contact nearly well enough to give ourselves a chance to win. We played hard, we blocked alright, Caleb Peters offence was very good — it’s been very good all season,” he said.
However, even with Peters and Breno Fabbri being consistent in their offence, the team needed more.
“Really offensively, we only got two guys going, and to beat a team like VIU you need three to four, and that was because our ball control let us down,” said Farrero.
The team is fairly young, and Farrero says he can see them becoming a top team in the PACWEST next year.
“We have to realize everything is about a lesson. I’m not happy with how we played, I don’t think any of the guys are. But at the same time in order to get into the top, you have to earn it, and we didn’t earn that tonight. I think we laid the foundation of a very strong program to come,” he said.
Farrero noted he isn’t done recruiting yet and will look for the team to get into postseason training in March.
“The biggest thing is every time you use lose you have to learn a lesson because only one team gets to win their last game. So, whether you didn’t make playoffs, you lose in the first round … only one team gets to win the last game, and unless you do there is always a lesson to be learned. Hopefully, we learned some,” he said.
Other matches of the day included the Capilano University Blues men’s volleyball team defeating the Columbia Bible College Bearcats 3-0 and a big comeback by the Capilano women’s team winning 3-2 against the University of the Fraser Valley.
The PACWEST Volleyball Championships continue with the semi-finals kicking off Feb. 22 at the College of the Rockies. On the women’s side, Douglas College will take on Camosun, while VIU will take on Capilano. For the men, Camosun College will face Capilano and Douglas College will take on VIU.