The College of the Rockies Avalanche’s Brazilan duo of Julio Lins and Breno Fabbri put up a wall against the Camosun Chargers during the opening weekend of the 2017-18 season. (Brad McLeod Photo)

The College of the Rockies Avalanche’s Brazilan duo of Julio Lins and Breno Fabbri put up a wall against the Camosun Chargers during the opening weekend of the 2017-18 season. (Brad McLeod Photo)

COTR Avalanche men looking for first win of season in four-day trip

Team facing difficult Lower Mainland opponents, hope road allows them ‘to be free’ of nerves

It wasn’t the opening weekend that they were hoping for, but the College of the Rockies Avalanche men’s volleyball team know that it’s still early in the season.

The Avs lost both of their matches against the Camosun Chargers last week in straight sets and find themselves 0-2 heading into their first road trip.

After facing the three-time defending PACWEST provincial champions, however, their opponents don’t get significantly easier.

On Thursday, the team plays at Capilano University against the 4-0 Blues, who are the only undefeated squad in the league.

Beating the Douglas College Royals 3-0 and 3-1 at home during their opening weekend, and then defeating the UFV Cascades 3-0 and 3-0 on the road, Capilano is a force to be reckoned with.

The 2017-18 Blues are led by third-year setter Simon Friesen who was a PACWEST First Team All-Star last year. He is surrounded by a young team with seven rookies and seven sophomores.

While Capilano squeaked into the playoffs last season, in the sixth-seed with a 10-14 record, the team seems primed to take another step.

Rookie outside hitter Jacob Hopkins has already proven himself to be a collegiate talent and was last week’s PACWEST ‘Men’s Volleyball Athlete of the Week’ after tallying 25 kills in their sweep of the Cascades.

Following the Avs matches on Thursday and Friday, the team plays in New Westminster against the Douglas College Royals on Saturday and Sunday.

Last year’s Provincial silver medalists, the Royals are 2-2 to start the season. While Douglas was swept by Capilano to start the year, they won in their home openers against the Columbia Bible College Bearcats with a pair of 3-0 wins.

The Avs’ weekend opponent is made up of eight rookies, five sophomores and two third-year athletes. The team’s kill-leader to start the season is freshman outside hitter Reid Marriott, who is averaging 3.2 kills per set.

As for the Avs, third-year outside hitter Julio Lins has the most kills with 13 in two games and is followed closely by sophomore Matt Cespedes who has 12 kills, and rookie Kyle Butchart who has 11, in addition to leading the Avs with 16 digs.

The team’s leadership group is made up of four captains, including Lins, libero Blake Thomson, outside hitter and libero Zach James, and setter Chris Dzioba.

Speaking after the team’s opening weekend, head coach Cisco Farrero said he hopes to see more consistency from his team moving forward and believes that a road trip could be good for the team.

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

The Avs men play tonight at 8 p.m. against Capilano, following the COTR women. After the four-game weekend, the team’s next match is at home against the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Friday, November 10.