In recent years, volleyball games between Columbia Bible College and the University of the Fraser Valley have come to be known as the Battle of Abbotsford.
In the wake of Thursday night’s games, it’s clear that moniker is more than just a marketing slogan. The local rivalry is alive and well, and the men’s game between the Bearcats and Cascades was a case in point.
The favoured CBC Bearcats, ranked No. 11 in the nation, ended up winning in three sets before a rowdy crowd at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre. But the underdog Cascades gave them all they could handle in a game defined by epic rallies and big-time momentum swings.
“There’s a lot of emotion that goes into this rivalry,” noted Rocky Olfert, CBC’s athletic director and men’s volleyball head coach. “There’s lots on the line, and it could be the last time we see each other this season.
“We knew they’d be scrappy.”
Indeed, the Cascades men came out energized, building a 19-13 lead in the first set. But the Bearcats came roaring back to win 26-24.
CBC held a 16-12 lead in the second set, but UFV saved a series of set points in spectacular fashion before falling 34-32. In the third set, the Bearcats opened a 7-0 lead behind the serving of Emmanuel Denguessi, but UFV clawed their way to within 15-14 before finally succumbing 25-20.
“It was so close in both those first two sets, and we had our chances,” noted Cascades coach Greg Russell, whose team was coming off big road wins over Camosun and Vancouver Island University last weekend.
“Last weekend, we finished the sets off. Tonight, just a little bit short.”
Matt Kaminski and Will Quiring paced the CBC offence with 16 and 13 kills, respectively, while Aaron Flanagan’s 12 kills were tops for UFV.
The Bearcats men, at 8-4, strengthened their grip on second place in the B.C. Colleges Athletic Association (BCCAA), while the fifth-place Cascades fell to 4-6.
In the early women’s game, the Cascades edged their Bearcats counterparts in three sets (25-22, 25-18, 25-21), leading from the first serve until the last. Kari Roos, with 12 kills, eight digs and three blocks, had a big game for UFV.
“It doesn’t take much to get the girls fired up to play CBC,” Cascades coach Dennis Bokenfohr noted with a chuckle. “They rose to the challenge tonight.
“We’ve been trying to work on our defensive system and playing consistently throughout the whole match, and we did that.”
The Cascades women moved to the .500 mark at 5-5, good for fourth in the BCCAA. The sixth-place Bearcats are 3-9 on the season.