Avalanche head coach John Swanson shares some directives with the men's squad during the 2014-15 PACWEST volleyball season. Swanson and the Avs return to College of the Rockies for home action this coming weekend.

Avalanche head coach John Swanson shares some directives with the men's squad during the 2014-15 PACWEST volleyball season. Swanson and the Avs return to College of the Rockies for home action this coming weekend.

Volleyball returns to College of the Rockies after Avalanche open season on road

Men look to bag second victory, while ladies hope to end winless start as Columbia Bible College Bearcats visit Cranbrook

The College of the Rockies Avalanche men’s and women’s volleyball squads opened their respective 2015-16 PACWEST campaigns on the road this past weekend, visiting Capilano University and Douglas College.

The men managed to scrape out two points Thursday, Oct. 29, edging out the Capilano Blues in five sets (21-25, 22-25, 27-25, 25-13, 15-9) before dropping their next three matches.

“We made some adjustments with positional stuff and made some mental thoughts about remaining positive and not getting down on ourselves and we ended up battling back,” said John Swanson, head coach of the Avalanche volleyball program, Tuesday afternoon regarding the play of his men’s team Thursday at Capilano.

The following night, the Blues exacted revenge with a four-sets victory. From there, the Avs visited Douglas College, falling to the Royals in back-to-back outings Oct. 31 (four sets) and Nov. 1 (straight sets).

“We started out well [at Douglas College] and then our blocking got poor and with that, our defensive coverage wasn’t great,” Swanson said. “We didn’t know how to set up around the block. A combination of poor blocking and not good enough servicing.”

While the men put two points up, bumping them into fifth place in the seven-team PACWEST standings, the Lady Avs went winless through four matches and sit last in the PACWEST Conference.

The Lady Avs dropped back-to-back four-set contests against Capilano, before battling hard in a five-sets defeat against Douglas College on Halloween.

“Unfortunately, going 0-4 wasn’t what we were hoping for,” Swanson said. “But we learned a lot. We experienced a lot. We battled.

“Losing is unfortunate, but the compete level was there. Capilano is a strong team. They finished third last year and they’re the same kind of team [this year] so we knew it was going to be tough.

“Fatigue set in [Sunday]. It’s very, very tough for the teams, after four full days, to stay mentally up.”

Wrapping up the trip, the ladies suffered a second consecutive defeat against the Royals, this one in four sets Nov. 1.

“I’ve said it to the ladies over and over and over and over — blocking is going to be a key thing for us,” Swanson said. “If we can be effective blocking, we’re going to be able to compete with all the teams.

“Defensively we’re quite strong and offensively were quite strong.”

While the season may not have begun the way Swanson hoped it might for both his squads, the Avs return home with an opportunity to build some energy on home court this weekend.

“Taking care of home-court advantage will be huge with both [the men and women],” Swanson said.

“Honestly, we have the best fan support in the PACWEST. That’s a huge advantage for us.”

The Avalanche welcome the Columbia Bible College Bearcats to College of the Rockies this weekend.

In men’s play, the Bearcats (0-6) sit in the PACWEST basement. On the ladies side of competition, the Bearcats (1-5) are in sixth place — one slot ahead of the Avalanche.

The women hit the court first Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (1 p.m.), while the men wrap up the festivities Friday (8 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.).