The dust has settled on the weekend’s season opening clash between the UFV Cascades and Columbia Bible College Bearcats, but the memories of boisterous crowds and suspenseful set points will linger until the teams next meet in February.
The two programs played twice over the weekend, home-and-home doubleheaders at UFV on Friday and CBC at Saturday. While the Cascades swept both the men’s and women’s games at UFV, the Bearcats forced a split on Saturday with a win on the men’s side.
Friday’s contest began with the UFV women jumping to a quick two set lead by scores of 26-24 and 25-13, only to watch the Bearcats take over down the stretch and even the score at two sets apiece (25-22, 29-27). In the fifth set the Cascades wrestled back control, achieving a 9-2 lead and then a 15-8 victory.
On Saturday the Cascades pulled out three straight sets to improve to 2-0 on the season, but were once again forced into extra points by the tenacious CBC side (26-24, 25-17, 28-26). The Cascades are a far more senior team than their Bearcats opponents (CBC has only one third year player amongst a roster of freshmen and sophomores), but also put together a remarkably balanced stat sheet. All but one Cascade got at least three offensive points in Saturday’s victory, while Kelly Robertson led UFV with 11 kills, and Nicole Blandford had 11 digs.
“We put serves in the court today,” said Cascades coach Dennis Bokenfohr, “instead of out the back and into the net [like on Friday]…. The biggest difference tonight is that we didn’t spot them big leads and kept the game close throughout the set and had strong finishes.”
Bokenfohr complimented the Bearcats for pushing the Cascades to the edge on Friday, and remaining dangerous throughout the weekend. “CBC did a great job. They kept the ball in play, they made us put it away, and, secondly, they play great defence. They don’t let the ball hit the ground easily, so we had to keep swinging at them.”
The men’s games balanced out into a stalemate as each team won their home stand 3-1. According to CBC coach Phil Wiens, it was the crowd advantage each night that made the difference.
On Friday the Cascades celebrated new head coach Kyle Donen’s debut with a four set victory (25-14, 23-25, 25-14, 25-17). On Saturday the Cascades turned the tables despite dropping the first set and falling behind 16-20 in the second (20-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-22).
“We talked as a team about how we needed to forget the first set, and just move on to the next play,” said Wiens. “You can’t control what’s happened, you can only control what’s going to happen. We just really worked on shifting our focus.”
Leigh Goossen shone for the ‘Cats in the win with 10 digs, five blocks, seven kills, and six aces.
The Bearcats have already lost freshman setter Riley Wall to a season-ending injury, and will also be missing star recruit Josh Goossen until deep in the season.
“It’s tough being young and running into injuries right away,” said Wiens. “This season isn’t looking the way we had envisioned it even a month ago, and so we just have to hit reset as a team a little bit and not worry about the season but just worry about each day as it comes.”
•This week CBC will face the College of the Rockies Avalanche on Thursday (W 6:00 pm; M 8:00 pm) and Sunday (W 11:00 am; M 1:00 pm), while UFV will face them Friday and Saturday evenings (W 6:00 pm: M 8:00 pm).