The Lady Avalanche continued their climb up the PACWEST standings this past weekend, moving to within four points of the fourth-place Vancouver Island University Mariners following a two-game split with the Capilano University Blues.
The Lady Avs battled past the Blues in five sets (26-24, 20-25, 17-25, 25-19, 15-10) Friday night, before falling in four sets (22-25, 16-25, 25-11, 12-25) Saturday afternoon.
“This is a team that knows they can beat anybody,” said Lady Avs coach Andrew Zurrin. “They know that if they play with enough energy and stay tight as a team, there’s not one team in the league they can’t stay with.”
The Blues came into the weekend as the top team in the PACWEST standings and also held down third place in the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association, so getting a win was no easy task for the hosts.
“We used 11 people on Friday to pull out the win, which is unheard of,” Zurrin said. “Usually you put your starters on and that’s it. A lot of people contributed to a five-set victory.
“Saturday, we had almost everybody make some kind of error that was uncharacteristic of them…It just didn’t translate to a complete game.”
Despite the loss, Zurrin’s squad has sights set on third-place in the conference. Heading into Week 11, the Lady Avs are six points back of the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades (UFV), with the Columbia Bible College Bearcats set to visit College of the Rockies this weekend.
“Anybody knows that if they don’t play their ‘A’ game [against us], they’re going to lose,” Zurrin said. “If they come in and just think it’s a win, those days are done.
“If we keep doing what we’re doing, with UFV coming in next week, we could possibly be challenging for top-three [in PACWEST].”
While the Lady Avs are targeting a top-three seat in PACWEST, things aren’t quite so rosy on the men’s side of the court.
The men dropped back-to-back games against the Capilano University Blues this past weekend, falling into seventh-place in the PACWEST standings.
Despite playing the Blues close in 3-1 losses both Friday (25-20, 19-25, 27-29, 23-25) and Saturday (23-25, 25-23, 13-25, 18-25), the Avs were unable to make the extra push required to come out on top.
“At the end of the day, we’re making way too many unforced errors,” said Avs coach Steve Kamps. According to Kamps, his squad committed 70 unforced errors in Friday’s loss and another 67 unforced errors Saturday afternoon. “You’re not going to compete [with that many unforced errors]. We’re giving teams 15 or 16 points each set that they don’t even have to earn.”
The Avs have now lost five consecutive games and eight of their previous nine outings.
“We’re trying [as a coaching staff] to illustrate which [errors] are unacceptable and why they’re making those and why they’re making the decisions they are,” Kamps said. “It’s frustrating as a coaching staff when we’re asking [the players] to change and we just don’t see changes. We’re seeing the same mistakes that were happening in September.”
Despite frustration with unforced errors, Kamps was happy with his team’s blocking and play in the middle.
The PACWEST’s fourth-place Columbia Bible College Bearcats visit College of the Rockies this weekend, presenting a challenge as Kamps’ crew tries to right the ship.
“With three weeks left in the season we have to fix things,” Kamps said. “I think the good thing is we can get things accomplished. We can change. I think we’re good enough to beat any team, but we’re running out of time.”
The Bearcats have rattled off six consecutive victories and remain undefeated since the calendar rolled over to 2015.
The last time the two teams met, the Avs earned a five-sets victory Oct. 26 at Columbia Bible College.
The Lady Avs open the weekend festivities Friday night at 6 p.m., followed by the men at 8 p.m. Action gets underway again Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m., with the men wrapping up the weekend at 3 p.m.
PACWEST Ladies’ Standings:1) Capilano University (14-2) 28 points; 2) Camosun College (14-2) 28; 3) University of the Fraser Valley (10-8) 20; 4) Vancouver Island University (9-7) 18; 5) College of the Rockies (7-9) 14; 6) Douglas College (4-12); 8; 7) Columbia Bible College (0-18); 0.
PACWEST Men’s Standings:1) Douglas College (14-2) 28 points; 2) Vancouver Island University (11-5) 22; 3) Camosun College (11-5) 22; 4) Columbia Bible College (9-9) 18; 5) University of the Fraser Valley (6-12) 12; 6) Capilano University (4-12) 8; 7) College of the Rockies (3-13) 6.