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Island demise

Avalanche men eliminated from PACWEST Volleyball Championships contention; Lady Avs drop matches at VIU and Camosun College
The Lady Avalanched (pictured Feb. 7 vs. UFV) are preparing for a trip to the PACWEST Volleyball Championships Feb. 26 to 28 at Camosun College.

It was a rough weekend for both College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball squads, as both the men and women went winless on each of their respective four-match swings across Vancouver Island.

The weekend was an especially difficult one for the men, whose season came to an early end as they were eliminated from PACWEST Volleyball Championships contention for only the second time in the program's 15-year history.

Thursday and Friday, the Lady Avs fell to the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners (3-0, 3-1) before dropping a pair of matches against the Camosun College Chargers Saturday and Sunday (3-1, 3-0).

"We found out exactly what the two teams ahead of us were all about," said Lady Avs coach Andrew Zurrin Tuesday afternoon. "Vancouver Island University, probably, is the team to beat within the PACWEST. Camosun, who is ranked No. 2 in Canada, is very beatable.

"[The Chargers] run a speed offense, which doesn't hit the ball super high. It allows us to get our hands on the block when we're there. They're not dominating us height-wise."

With the defeats, the Lady Avs finish the regular season at 11-13 and in the fifth slot in the PACWEST standings. Now, the focus turns to the PACWEST Volleyball Championships, which begin Feb. 26 at Camosun College.

"We're going to work on a couple little things and learn how to deal with the pressure of playing again at 22 points," Zurrin said. "Every game against Camosun, we got to 22 points, their veterans pushed through and we faltered a little bit and couldn't get over the hump."

The full PACWEST women's picture is still be to determined with all PACWEST squads, other than the Lady Avs, in action this weekend.

Despite this past weekend's setbacks, Zurrin is confident his crew can make some noise at the conference championships.

"We're positioned perfectly for this provincial run," Zurrin said.

While the Lady Avs prepare for a return trip to Vancouver Island, the Avalanche are dealing without a trip to the PACWEST Volleyball Championships for only the second time in the program's 15-year history.

After dropping a straight-sets loss Thursday to VIU, the Avs bounced back Friday, jumping out to a two-sets lead before dropping three straight in a 3-2 loss.

"Playing in VIU is often a tough gym to play in," said Avalanche head coach Steve Kamps Tuesday evening. "We struggled with both pass, serving and basic execution [Thursday night].

"The guys came out very strong [Friday] and took the first two sets and battled hard in the third and fourth [set]."

The Avs pulled out to a 7-5 lead in the fifth and deciding set only to collapse.

"Catastrophe happened," Kamps said. "We started making a pile of errors and we got outscored 10-2.

"That was a heartbreaker and that one ended up being the match we needed to win to make provincials."

The situation didn't get any better Saturday and Sunday, as the Avs dropped back-to-back matches to Camosun College (3-0, 3-1).

Combining the Avs defeats with a victory for the Capilano University Blues over the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades Sunday morning, the Avalanche fell into seventh place in the PACWEST standings.

With no games remaining on their schedule, the Avalanche were officially eliminated from PACWEST contention, finishing 5-19.

"It's a 24-game season and there's all these games we could've and should've won," Kamps said. "It goes back to taking care of business at home and we didn't do that this year. It's obviously frustrating.

"It's not like we didn't have the talent. It was there. It was just putting it all together.  The guys did that on Sunday at least, so we went out fighting."

The PACWEST Volleyball Championships will be hosted by Camosun College Feb. 26 to 28.