The road is never easy for the Avs, but they can take solace in knowing that this weekend’s trip will be their last for over two months.
Playing against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats on Thursday and Friday, and the University of Fraser Valley Cascades on Saturday and Sunday, the College of the Rockies men’s and women’s volleyball teams will have their work cut out for them.
Both COTR teams lost in their most recent home matches, with the women falling to a 4-4 record and the men sinking to 1-7.
The Bearcats should provide both teams with a chance to get back on their game.
The CBC women’s team has had a slow start this year, going 1-7 so far this year. Their only win, however, was a 3-2 match against the Capilano Blues on Saturday, a squad that swept the Avs in their two meetings.
In 2016-17, COTR split their four-game season series with the Bearcats and CBC has a number of key returners from that team in their lineup.
Led by fifth-year outside hitter Jodi Enns, who is the PACWEST leader in total offensive stats and is averaging 3.53 kills per set, CBC only has two college volleyball rookies.
The Avs, on the other hand, have nine freshmen this season and will be missing star outside hitter Alexa Koshman, who is out with another injury after recently returning from a four-game absence during the team’s last road trip.
“[Everyone needs to step up with Koshman out],” said head coach John Swanson after last weekend’s matches against VIU. “It’s sometimes hard because we have such an inexperienced team [so] we have to do it by committee.
“We just all have to get into that mindset [of being leaders on the floor].”
Despite their misfortunes in terms of health, COTR has still been hot in general lately, and were ranked 11th in the most recent CCAA National Rankings after a weekend that included a win at home over the number two ranked VIU Mariners.
The Avs top offensive players in Koshman’s absence are fourth-year hitter Megan Beckett and rookie Taylor Whittall.
With only one win each, the men’s Avs-Bearcats matchup will be a battle of the conference bottom-feeders.
CBC has seven first-year players on their roster, but also two fifth-years including left side hitter Ben Smith, a Cranbrook-product who once played for Mount Baker Secondary.
In 2016-17, the Avs swept the Bearcats in all four of their meetings and are led offensively again this season by a pair of returning power hitters: Matt Cespedes and Julio Lins.
“Serve, receive to attack and then there will be some specific things for CBC and UFV coming up this weekend,” said head coach Cisco Farrero after the team’s last game on Saturday of his plans for upcoming practices. “We only have two days [so] we’ve got to make sure we’re healthy.”
Following the games at CBC, both teams will play the UFV Cascades. The Cascades women’s team has a 5-3 record and are in third in the PACWEST, while the men are 3-5 and in fourth place.
The top players on the UFV women’s team include rookie left side hitter Amanda Matsui and fourth-year left side Kim Bauder. The men are also led by a pair of left sides, with fifth-year Nick Bruce and third-year Ben Friesen both putting up solid stats through eight matches.
Following the Avs trip, the team will begin a month-long semester break and then host Capilano during the January 12 weekend and then CBC the following weekend.
Their next and final road trip will be to Vancouver Island from January 25 to 28, playing at Camosun and VIU. The regular PACWEST season ends in mid-February, with the Provincial tournament then being hosted by UFV near the end of the month.