Taken as a whole, the weekend volleyball matches between the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades and the Columbia Bible College Bearcats represented everything that a crosstown rivalry should be.
When the dust had settled after four drama-filled contests, the Cascades women and the Bearcats men were proud owners of two hard-earned victories to open the PacWest regular season.
The UFV women were national bronze medalists last season, but their Bearcats counterparts posed a stiff test both nights. On Friday at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre, CBC won the first set 25-19, only to watch the Cascades regroup and win the next three (25-22, 25-22, 25-16) behind 15 kills from Jenna Evans and 14 from Kayla Bruce.
On Saturday back at Columbia Place, the Bearcats took two of the first three sets. But the Cascades dug deep once again and rallied for a two-point triumph in the fifth set (25-21, 20-25, 17-25, 25-22, 17-15). Bruce led the way with 21 kills and four blocks.
“It’s fun to play meaningful matches,” UFV women’s coach Dennis Bokenfohr said. “It allows you to see what new players do in stressful situations. More than anything else, that was the best thing for us.”
Sadie Ball led the Bearcats with 11 kills on Friday, and she tied April Van Wieren for team-high honours with 17 kills Saturday.
While the CBC women didn’t come away with a win, they established that they’re approaching to UFV’s calibre.
“That was the takeaway from the weekend – ignore the win-loss column and just talk about the compete level, which was significantly higher than anything we did last year,” head coach Duncan Harrison noted.
“I just felt like our girls responded remarkably well when they were put under pressure. UFV runs a very, very fast-paced offence. They constantly have you under attack, and I thought our girls handled it very well.”
On the men’s side, the Bearcats eked out a dramatic five-set win Friday (25-19, 18-25, 26-24, 23-25, 18-16) before making slightly quicker work of the Cascades in four sets on Saturday (24-26, 25-16, 25-21, 25-20). Veterans Emmanuel Denguessi and Matt Lieuwen set the tone for CBC.
“I was really happy with how the guys played, really proud of them,” Bearcats coach Phil Wiens said. “Friday in particular, we showed a lot of poise. We were up 14-12 in the fifth set and let it slip, and we were down 15-14. It showed a lot of character that our guys just kept at it, came back and took the game.”
On Friday, UFV got 20 kills from Josh Togeretz and 10 apiece from Trevor Nickel and Victor Zych. Nickel’s 11 kills led the way Saturday.
• This weekend, the Bearcats volleyball teams host Vancouver Island University (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m. Friday; women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m. Saturday), while the Cascades host the Camuson Chargers (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m. Friday; women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m. Saturday).