COTR Avalanche player Julio Lins hits a ball during the team’s opening night game of the 2017-18 season against the visiting Camosun Chargers.

COTR Avalanche player Julio Lins hits a ball during the team’s opening night game of the 2017-18 season against the visiting Camosun Chargers.

COTR Avalanche men fall in straight sets to Chargers

Volleyball team opens 2017-18 season with pair of 3-0 losses to defending champions

Some may give out an A for effort, but that unfortunately doesn’t translate into points in a volleyball match.

Although College of the Rockies Avalanche men’s head coach Cisco Farrero was pleased with the way his team competed in their opening weekend, after losing two matches to the Camosun Chargers, he still sees plenty of room for improvement.

“We were pretty inconsistent,” Farrero said on Saturday. “We weren’t good enough on first contact to give ourselves a chance. That being said, our guys played really hard. We showed glimpses, but glimpses aren’t going to beat the conference champions.”

In back-to-back matches against Camosun, who have won the PACWEST provincial title for the past three seasons in a row, the Avs failed to win a single set.

While there were plenty of competitive moments and COTR averaged a respectable 18.7 points per set, their streaky play couldn’t get them over the hump.

After watching the women’s team pull off a spectacular five-set victory in their home opener on Friday evening, the men weren’t able to feed off the crowd’s energy to the same effect.

Losing the first set 18-25, they improved in the second with a 20-25 loss but then regressed again and fell 18-25 to end the match.

Despite the competitive losses, several players had notable individual performances including third-year Julio Lins who led the team with seven kills and also had a pair of blocks. Rookie Kyle Butchart also impressed with a team-leading 11 digs and six kills in his first ever post-secondary level game.

In the team’s rematch against the Chargers on Saturday afternoon, sophomore outside hitter Matt Cespedes took centre stage, while the Avs once again lost handily.

While the team came close in the first set, only losing 25-22, they were beaten 25-14 and then 25-20 to cap off a disappointing weekend at home.

Cespedes, last year’s winner of the team’s ‘Most Improved Player’ award, had six digs, seven kills and also put in two ace serves in the loss.

Overall, the team had fairly balanced statistics for the weekend, with Butchart leading in digs with 16, Lins picking up the most kills and blocks with 13 and 3, Chris Dzioba earning the most assists with 28 and Cespedes managing the most aces with four.

Last year’s Avalanche floor captain Spencer Janzen, who transfered to Camosun over the offseason, was impressive but not spectacular in his return to Cranbrook and put up a single kill and dig.

According to Farrero, the team used the weekend as a learning experience.

“I think the biggest [reason why Camosun is so successful] is that they understand what the priority is,” the coach explained. “They’re not a finished product yet this season either, but they understand that taking care of the first contact is extremely important.

“I’m much more happy with the effort than [our] execution. We played hard the whole weekend [and] we didn’t quit or give up at any moment, but I think we can definitely play better.”

With the pair of losses, the Avs exited their first weekend of action as the only team without a win, although they have two games in hand with the rest of the conference.

The team’s next action will take place on Thursday, as they play the Capilano Blues on the road in the first of four-straight matches. After back-to-back games against the 4-0 Blues, the Avs will play the 2-2 Douglas College Royals.

Farrero is hopeful that hitting the road might help the team after their first pressure-filled weekend.

“The first road trip is different than the first home game [and] the nerves should be gone,” he said. “Sometimes, going on the road allows you to be free.

“[Before we leave], there are a few little things we can work on [and] the biggest thing is about making some mental fixes.”

Following the trip, the Avalanche will host the Vancouver Island University Mariners on November 10.

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