The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team achieved a landmark victory on Saturday, winning the first PacWest provincial title in program history.
In an all-Abbotsford final at the conference championships in Cranbrook, the Cascades made short work of their crosstown rivals, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats.
The Bearcats were coming off an epic upset of the defending national champs from Vancouver Island University in the semifinals, but UFV, the No. 1-ranked team in Canada, ended their Cinderella run in decisive fashion, winning 25-19, 25-15, 25-17.
Both teams had already punched their tickets to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) national championship, which runs March 7-9 at Lakeland College in Lloydminster, Alta.
“It’s a good feeling,” Cascades coach Dennis Bokenfohr told The News via cellphone. “I don’t know if relief is the word, but it’s only been about an hour, so I don’t know if it’s sunk in yet.
“But we’re ecstatic, over-the-top happy.”
The Bearcats, riding the momentum of their upset win the night before, got off to a hot start in the first set, opening a four-point lead. But Nicole Blandford came off the UFV bench to serve and went on a tear, notching four aces as part of a nine-point run.
“That was the TSN turning point,” Bokenfohr said. “Our girls’ confidence went through the roof.
“After that, our players really started teeing off . . . It was pretty fun to watch.”
Krista Hogewoning was UFV’s player of the game, while Anna Cupido won the corresponding award for CBC.
Cascades fifth-year middle Kayla Bruce added the provincial tournament MVP award to the regular-season player of the year trophy she picked up earlier in the week, and teammates Hogewoning and Kira Tome were named tourney all-stars.
CBC’s Cupido and April van Wieren were also picked for the tourney all-star team.
With a return trip to nationals on the horizon, the Cascades are aiming to improve on last year’s bronze medal finish.
“We have high expectations . . . and we’ll do our best to bring home another banner,” Bokenfohr said.