Royals spoil Avs home opener

The men come away with a split record, while the women suffer two losses.

Jayden Roch strikes the ball for the Avalanche

Jayden Roch strikes the ball for the Avalanche

The Avs had a little bit of trouble with some visiting royalty over the weekend during their home opening Pacwest league games at the College of the Rockies gymnasium.

The men came away with the split record of a win and a loss against the Douglas College Royals, while the women were defeated in both matches at scores of 3-1.

The men dropped the first set on opening night, but roared back with three straight to win the match. For the rematch on Saturday, the men held a 2-1 set lead, but the Royals evened it up and forced a tiebreak, which they won to take the match.

The women dropped the opening two sets on Friday, before coming back to capture the third one. However, the Royals closed it out with the fourth to win the match. It was the same result on Saturday, Douglas jumped to a two-set lead, before the Avs answered back to take the third. Despite leading for much of the fourth, the Royals managed to pull ahead near the end to win the rematch.

It was a special weekend for men’s Avs player Ben Smith, who grew up in Cranbrook playing high school and club volleyball and got to get on the court in front of hometown fans.

“It’s amazing. I always wanted to do something like that,” Smith said. “I’m just having fun out here, making the most of every opportunity so I’ll get in there as much as I can.”

Though it was the first home action for the Avs, they’d already done one road trip to Vancouver Island to play four league matches.

However, opening at home doesn’t involve a gruelling 16-hour bus ride to the Lower Mainland.

“With the home crowd, it was definitely different and we had more time to focus on the game and get prepared for it, so it took a little adjustment to get used to the home crowd and we definitely built off it, for sure,” added Smith.

Smith said the team’s serving was the key to winning on Friday, but fizzled on Saturday, which gave the Royals an opening.

With the Avs leading 2-1 in sets, the Royals built up a big lead in the fourth, but the home squad was able to cut it down, despite losing in the end.

“They were on a big lead from us  so we got some guys off the bench in there to try and get back some momentum and I thought we did,” Smith said.

“We turned a 13-point lead into a 4-point lead, by them, which is pretty good, I thought, and we were hoping to carry it over into the fifth set, but it just didn’t turn out that way.”

Though the ladies lost the Saturday afternoon match at a set score of 3-1, they were so close to pulling even and forcing a tiebreak, losing the fourth set at 25-23.

Ladies left side Kelsey Thompson said the team had trouble executing as fully as they should’ve.

“I think the second match we were blocking more,” Thompson said. “We had a lot of blocks—we started to key in on their middles. The first day, we were just hitting a lot and digging more, so we had to try to put all that together, but everything seemed to start working better the second day.”

Though still winless, the ladies are in sixth place above the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, as the Avlanche have more set wins.

The men’s team is in fourth place, tied with the Bearcats and the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, as all three teams have three wins. However, like the ladies, the men hold the edge with set wins.