The season came to close Saturday afternoon for the College of the Rockies (COTR) Lady Avalanche following a straight-sets defeat at the hands of the Capilano University Blues in the bronze-medal game at the 2015 PACWEST Volleyball Championships at Camosun College in Victoria.
Despite coming up short in their hunt for a PACWEST medal, the Lady Avs concluded a strong season in which they finished 11-13 through regular season play and qualified for the PACWEST Volleyball Championships for the first time in program history.
The turnaround season came on the heels of only winning two matches during the 2013-14 campaign.
“After we did our 7-1 run in the second half at home, everybody went, ‘Holy cow. I can’t believe where we got to,'” said Lady Avalanche head coach Andrew Zurrin Monday afternoon. “[The girls] were really, really happy with themselves in terms of what we’ve done, where we’re playing an exciting brand of ball and probably the best defensive team on the floor. Everybody, as a team, was happy with what they’ve accomplished.
“They were excited to get past that first round of the playoffs…It was a banner season.”
In the midst of the their first trip to the PACWEST Volleyball Championships, the Lady Avs eked out the first victory in program history at the tournament, defeating the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades in five sets (25-23, 17-25, 20-25, 25-22, 15-8) Thursday night.
From there, the Lady Avs moved on to face the host Camosun College Chargers Friday night in the semifinals.
The PACWEST’s top-ranked Chargers cruised to a straight-sets win (25-20, 25-18, 25-15) over the Lady Avs to advance to the conference championships, where they fell to the Vancouver Island University Mariners in five sets (25-15, 25-21, 24-26, 25-14, 12-15).
“We ran an attack, but because we didn’t finish, we gave them too many chances to counter-attack,” Zurrin said.
“In order to compete, we had to play our ‘A’ game and we had to have them falter for us to beat them.”
For the Lady Avs, they were dropped into the bronze-medal match where they fell to the Blues in straight sets (25-16, 25-14, 25-19).
As they have been all season, left side Kelsey Thompson and libero Alexa Koshman were consistent forces all weekend long.
In the bronze-medal game, Thompson was named player of the match for COTR, with nine kills, one ace and five digs.
Koshman was recognized with player of the match honours in Friday’s loss to Camosun, registering 12 digs in the match.
Though this season has come to a close, Zurrin’s focus has already turned to preparing his squad for next season.
Having jumped from two wins to 11 wins this season, the Lady Avs bench boss is shooting for 15 wins and a trip to the CCAA National Championships next season.
The top two teams from PACWEST advance to the CCAA National Championships.
“I see this program now, expecting to make the playoffs each year,” Zurrin said. “They know what it takes to get wins to get to provincials.
“I, myself, expect to be in interprovincials [CCAA National Championships] next year and we will take that next step and handle the pressure better.”