Cascades battle back to win bronze at women's volleyball nationals
An incredible amount of resilience was required for the University of the Fraser Valley women's volleyball team to achieve a landmark finish at the national championships.
At the CCAA tournament at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, the Cascades found themselves relegated to the consolation side in short order after dropping their quarter-final to the Humber Hawks in straight sets on Thursday.
But the UFV women dug deep and battled their way through the back side of the draw to the bronze medal game, where they made good on their second crack at Humber, winning in four sets.
"It's our first-ever national tournament, and to have a result like this is very exciting," Cascades head coach Dennis Bokenfohr enthused. "We showed some resilience, and the girls started believing."
The Cascades' alternative route to the podium began with a straight-sets win over the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics of Halifax. In their next game, the Medicine Hat Rattlers won the first two sets, but UFV came roaring back to win the last three in thrilling fashion.
They finished the job against Humber, by scores of 25-23, 25-23, 19-25 and 25-18. Jenna Evans led the way with 18 kills, while Kayla Bruce chipped in with 13 kills and Brittany Stewart had 20 digs.
Bruce was named a first team tournament all-star, while Evans was a second-teamer.
"The reason the girls won the medal is they pushed all the way to the end," said Bokenfohr, whose team won silver at the PacWest provincial championships. "We had an exceptional tournament, and we're very happy with the result."
The host VIU Mariners won the gold, beating the Mount Royal Cougars of Calgary in the title game.
With Mount Royal jumping from the college ranks to the CIS next year, and with every player on UFV's roster eligible to return, Bokenfohr expects his team to be ranked in the top two in the nation to begin the 2012-13 season.
"We're enjoying this medal, but we're looking forward as well," he said. "The expectation isn't to just make the nationals next year, but to win."