Sports

Bearcats women upset Mariners in PacWest semis, Cascades also punch national ticket

Head coach Duncan Harrison and the CBC women
Head coach Duncan Harrison and the CBC women's volleyball team celebrate after knocking off the Vancouver Island University Mariners in the provincial semifinals on Friday. By beating the defending national champs, the Bearcats earned the first trip to the national championships in program history.
— image credit: The Real Mckenzie Photography / PacWest provincial volleyball website

The Columbia Bible College women's volleyball team engineered a massive upset on Friday afternoon, earning their first trip to the national championships in the process.

The Bearcats knocked off the Vancouver Island University Mariners, the defending national champions and the current No. 2-ranked team in the country, in a five-set thriller at PacWest volleyball provincials in Cranbrook.

"It's just a real wonderful feeling," CBC coach Duncan Harrison said. "I'm not really sure it's even sunk in yet – I've been busy answering texts and emails all afternoon. Pride would be my biggest feeling right now. The girls certainly did something that I would suggest not a lot of people thought they could do."

The Mariners, who boasted a 21-3 record in the PacWest regular season, had an opening-round bye, but they showed no rust in a 25-16 triumph in the first set vs. CBC.

The Bearcats, third in the PacWest at 13-11, were coming off a 3-0 win over the Douglas Royals in the quarter-finals, and they bounced back for a 25-23 win in the second.

The teams split the next two sets – 25-19 for VIU and 25-22 for CBC – to force a pivotal fifth, and it was all Bearcats at that point. They polished off the Mariners 15-7, setting off an ecstatic celebration.

CBC setter Anna Cupido was named her team's player of the game, while Marlie Temple picked up the corresponding honour for VIU.

"On paper, it's not a team we would beat all that often, necessarily," Harrison admitted. "But our backcourt defence was outstanding today. We dug up a lot of really hard-hit balls, and that frustrated them.

"I know it's a cliche, but it was a total team effort."

The Bearcats move on to Saturday's PacWest title game, but most importantly, they advance to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) nationals for the first time. That event runs March 7-9 at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Alta.

UFV WOMEN ALSO PUNCH NATIONAL TICKET

With a four-set win over the Capilano Blues in Friday's late semi, the University of the Fraser Valley women's volleyballers made it an all-Abbotsford final.

The Cascades, ranked No. 1 in both the PacWest and the CCAA after posting a 22-2 record in the regular season, fended off fourth-place Capilano to assure themselves a return trip to nationals. UFV won bronze last season.

CASCADES MEN ELIMINATED IN FIRST ROUND

The sixth-seeded UFV men's volleyball team wasn't able to pull off an upset – they saw their season come to an end in the quarter-finals on Thursday, as they dropped a four-set decision to third seed Camosun.

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