For the first time in 2015-16, PACWEST volleyball returned to College of the Rockies in electrifying fashion this past weekend as the Avalanche hosted the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.
On the men’s side of the equation, the Avalanche rolled to a pair of straight sets victories over the Bearcats, using home court energy provided by a packed gymnasium to their advantage both Friday and Saturday.
In the Avs first appearance of the season on home court Friday night, they cruised to a 3-0 win over the Bearcats (25-18, 25-22, 25-15).
“We had a little bit of a lull in the second set and didn’t play with the same urgency as was needed,” said John Swanson, head coach of the Avalanche volleyball program. “However, [we] still managed to play well enough to win.”
Having swept the Bearcats Friday night, Swanson’s crew knew to expect a strong response from the visitors in the encore Saturday and they got just that.
After the Avalanche built a healthy lead in the opening set, the Bearcats clawed back to make it interesting and put pressure on the hosts.
Despite faltering midway through the first set, the Avs remained calm and collected en route to a second-consecutive straight sets victory (25-23, 25-19, 25-16).
“CBC came out with more spirit and challenged us,” Swanson said. “Thankfully, the guys didn’t panic and despite giving up a fairly healthy lead early in the set, we composed ourselves.
“It was a very successful home stand for the guys.”
With the pair of victories, the Avalanche evened their season record (3-3) and pushed their way up the PACWEST standings into fifth place.
While the men cruised to straight-sets wins both days, the Lady Avs were entrenched in tightly-contested five-set affairs with the Bearcats.
Friday night, the two ladies squads battled back and forth as the Avalanche fell in a nail-biter (25-15, 22-25, 20-25, 25-18, 13-15).
“We had opportunities to close out the match,” Swanson said. “But as in previous situations, we just weren’t able to get that much-needed defining or finishing point.”
The opening set of the night saw the Lady Avs roar ahead as the Bearcats missed nine consecutive serves early. After settling in, the Bearcats serving found consistency and the visitors utilized heavy hitting from the outside to pound away at the hosts.
If Friday’s contest proved to be the battle that set the stage for the weekend’s ultimate war.
Saturday afternoon, intent on not allowing another opportunity to slide by, the Lady Avs endured an incredible fifth and deciding set to top the Bearcats (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 26-28, 22-20).
No set came easily for either the Lady Avs or Bearcats.
With a 2-1 lead and the opportunity to close out the afternoon, the Lady Avs slipped and allowed the Bearcats to rally in the fourth to force a deciding fifth set.
The entire weekend could’ve been summed up in that fifth set, as the two squads went point for point, back and forth with incredible rallies, strong blocks and breath-taking moments.
With 42 points on the board between the two clubs, the Lady Avs finally put the Bearcats away by a 22-20 final.
“I was extremely proud of the ladies for continuing to believe in themselves and knowing they could overcome previous disappointments and frustrations,” Swanson said. “The entire team needs to be commended on their play through the two matches.”
Saturday’s win was the first of the season for the Lady Avs — and it came with a serious exclamation point.
The victory allowed the Lady Avs to keep pace with the Bearcats in the PACWEST. Following the weekend split, the Bearcats remain in sixth (2-6) with the Lady Avs hot on their heels (1-5) and looking to climb in the balanced and competitive PACWEST.
Both Avalanche squads will take this week off before returning to action on home court Friday, Nov. 20 and Saturday, Nov. 21, when the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades visit College of the Rockies.
“It was incredible to see so many supporting fans coming to our home opener,” Swanson said. “When we travel, we see about 30 to 40 fans in opposing gyms and to have that kind of support at home, we are so appreciative.”
PACWEST Men’s Standings:
1) Camosun (6-0, 12 points)2) Douglas (6-2, 12)3) Fraser Valley (4-2, 8)4) Capilano (4-4, 8)5) College of the Rockies (3-3, 6)6) Vancouver Island (1-5, 2)7) Columbia Bible College (0-8, 0)
PACWEST Women’s Standings:
1) Camosun (5-1, 10 points)2) Douglas (5-3, 10)3) Capilano (5-3, 10)4) Vancouver Island (4-2, 8)5) Fraser Valley (2-4, 4)6) Columbia Bible College (2-6, 4)7) College of the Rockies (1-5, 2)