The Avs are out of the Pacwest provincial championships after falling 3-0 to the Capilano University Blues at the College of the Rockies on Thursday night.
The Blues advance to the semifinal on Friday, however, their opponents will be the Douglas College Royals, which just so happen to be the number two-ranked team in the country.
It was a tough loss to swallow for the Avs, which came out swinging in front of a home crowd, rallying at the end of the first set, only to lose 25-22.
It was close between the two teams, and had the score gone the other way, it could’ve been a very different match.
“I think the guys came out ready to execute,” said Avs head coach Steve Kamps. “I think they controlled their nerves very well. The first set could’ve gone either way, I think we followed the game plan very well and we lost a narrow one in the first set.”
“I think we then just lost some of our patience, our serve-receive fell apart, we fell apart on the passing end of things and they’re a tough team to beat when you’re not passing very well.”
The Blues themselves are nationally ranked at 11th overall across the country, and have been on a tear, winning 10 of their last matches.
Their prowess on the court was exemplified by their stubborn refusal to give up on balls that seemed to be on the verge of delivering a point to the Avalanche.
Every time the Avs tried to put a ball away, the Blues would dig it up and fire it right back over, which seemed to frustrate the hometown team.
“Very frustrating,” said Taylor Verboom, who plays middle for the Avs, “because they have probably one of the best defences in the league. They set a solid block and then they dig everything around it, so it’s frustrates the hitters when they’re putting their all into it and they’re just digging it up and putting it back at you.”
After the opening set, the Blues came out and took control, getting up early and holding their lead, which ended with a 25-17 second set victory.
Capilano kept up the pressure in the third set, again taking a lead and not looking back as it cruised to a 25-19 set win to close out the match.
“We had a few pitfalls on making the execution happen, the little plays and the little things that tend to accumulate,” said Kellan Ward, who plays libero for the Avs, “That’s kind of been our Achilles heel all year. We have a very talented group this year, a good bunch of guys and that’s kind of a tough way to go.”
It was an emotional time for Verboom, Ward and David Wiebe, as all three Avs were in their fifth and final year.
“It was upsetting,” said Verboom. “It was not the way I wanted to finish my fifth year, but it’s still exciting to make it in and be at this level.”
Wiebe says he’s enjoyed his five years with the Avs and the College of the Rockies.
“It’s been good, I’ve had a lot of fun, met a lot of good guys and made a lot of friends,” Wiebe said. “I have a coaching opportunity, with this team, hopefully in the future, just with my relationship with Steve and the school and the program.”
Kamps noted the program will miss those fifth year guys, but adds that there are a lot of rookies this year that gained some good experience and are returning next year.
“We did have three fifth year guys, which is unfortunate for them, a bad way to go out, but it’s been nice to have fifth year guys go through the program and lots of rookies, so it was kind of a rebuilding year if you look at that,” said Kamps. “We had nine rookies on the team and most of them looking at coming back next year so we’re just going to continue to build and have all those guys back for more experience next year.”
In other volleyball action on Thursday, the women’s Columbia Bible College Bearcats defeated the Douglas College Royals 3-0 (25-23-27-25, 25-18).
The men’s Camosun College Chargers beat the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 3-0 ( 21-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-20.)
The women’s Capilano University Blues also advanced past the Camosun College Chargers with a 3-1 match victory (25-23, 25-16, 22-25, 25-19.)