With the first half of the PACWEST season in the books, both College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball clubs were hoping for a little bit more.
Through seven weeks of action, coach Andrew Zurrin’s Lady Avs find themselves holding down fifth place in PACWEST with a 4-8 record. On the men’s side of the equation, coach Steve Kamps’ Avs sit in sixth at 3-9, with the Capilano University Blues (2-10) hot on their heels.
College of the Rockies rounded out the first half of the PACWEST season with a four-game swing through the Lower Mainland last weekend, visiting Douglas College and Capilano University.
The Avs were able to squeeze a 3-2 victory over the Blues Nov. 29, but came up short in three straight-sets losses, including a Sunday defeat at the hands of Capilano, allowing the Blues to stay within striking distance in the PACWEST standings.
“All weekend, we had to battle,” Kamps said Wednesday morning. “We didn’t play particularly well.
“It’s frustrating to see the way we’re playing, the errors we’re making. Our serving continued to haunt us all weekend.
“[Sunday], unfortunately, we came out and had our worst performance of the year. It was an absolute disaster. I didn’t even know what to say at the end of the game. It was the worst I’ve seen a team play here at the college for many, many years, if not my entire coaching career.”
As for the Lady Avs, they too went 1-3 on the swing, with their only victory a straight-sets triumph Nov. 27 against the Douglas College Royals.
“We could see the effects of the road trip,” Zurrin said Tuesday afternoon. “Our brains didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders. But they gutted it out and they pushed through. It was a tough win, mentally [against Douglas, Nov. 27].
“Even though we won three straight, it was a weird win where we did enough to win and the other team helped us to [win]. You hate to say that, but it’s almost like they just didn’t see what we had coming at them.”
Left side Kelsey Thompson continued her strong play for the Lady Avs, racking up 51 digs and 57 kills over the weekend. For the men, it was Australian right side Curtis Stockton stepping up to the plate and earning praise from coach Kamps as he crushed 68 kills and chipped in with 25 digs.
The Avs aren’t back in action until Jan. 16, 2015, when they host the Douglas College Royals at College of the Rockies. As for the Lady Avs, they sneak in a bit of exhibition action with a trip to Lethbridge Jan. 3 and 4, 2015, before returning to PACWEST play Jan. 16 against Douglas College.
“It’s a good time for us to step away and have both the physical and mental break that we need right now, and a chance to reflect,” Kamps said. “Hopefully we comeback in January with a new approach to the way we’ve been doing things.
“We need to really go back to the basics and fundamentals.”
For both teams, the break represents a chance to regroup and refresh before the second half of the season.
According to Kamps, his squad is battling a bit of injury and will welcome some time away from the court. Both Zach Fedechko and Spencer Dakin Kuiper missed games this past weekend due to injury, and the Avs bench boss indicated a number of others are nursing sore ankles, shoulders and various nagging injuries.
The hope is that a strong push during the second half will pull both clubs into contention in PACWEST.
Zurrin believes his girls are playing the game physically well, but falling short on the mental and emotional side of the equation, as they’ve been unable to finish off opponents late in sets.
“I’m expecting big things in the second half,” Zurrin said. “You never learn things from a win, you learn things from a loss.
“Our defence is outstanding. We probably have the best defence in the league…We don’t quit on any ball. No ball goes unchallenged. Every play stays alive. [Our opponents] know they have to win the point. We don’t lose it.”
Pairing the defensive strength with some more polish on the mental side of the game, Zurrin is optimistic his squad can get to 10 wins before the season comes to a close. With 12 games to play, that would require the Lady Avs to roll to a 6-6 mark to close the season.
PACWEST Men’s Standings: 1) Douglas College (10-2); 2) Camosun College (9-3); 3) Vancouver Island University (9-3); 4) University of the Fraser Valley (6-6); 5) Columbia Bible College (3-9); 6) College of the Rockies (3-9); 7) Capilano University (2-10)
PACWEST Women’s Standings: 1) Capilano University (11-1); 2) Camosun College (10-2); 3) University of the Fraser Valley (7-5); 4) Vancouver Island University (6-6); 5) College of the Rockies (4-8); 6) Douglas College (4-8); 7) Columbia Bible College (0-12)