UFV’s Robert Bauerfind smashes a ball through a Camosun block.

UFV’s Robert Bauerfind smashes a ball through a Camosun block.

Success and struggle: Cascades end 2014 with even record

Under a new coach, UFV men's volleyball is fighting for rankings in the PacWest.

After 12 games, the UFV Cascades men’s volleyball team sits at 6-6, good enough for the exact middle of the seven-team PacWest conference. The Cascades are three wins up on the CBC Bearcats (3-9) and three below the VIU Mariners (9-3), the only misfit between two fast-diverging segments of the field.

Still, the numbers don’t tell the full story. The Cascades lost to the struggling CBC Bearcats early in the season, then upset the first-place Douglas College Royals (10-2) on Nov. 14. Under first-year coach Kyle Donen, UFV is a team still discovering itself, and creating plenty of surprises along the way.

“It’s been a growing experience for me as well as for some of the guys,” said Donen, who has been happy to find some success early despite the transition. He began the season by tweaking UFV’s system, as well as moving some players to different positions, and is encouraged by the results.

The Cascades were two games over .500 heading into last weekend’s double-header with the Camosun Chargers, but dropped both 3-0. On Friday UFV pushed all three sets to the limit, losing 30-28, 25-23, 25-23 in a game that could easily have gone the Cascades’ way.

“We were only a point or two, a dig or two, one extra kill here or there from earning a set win that could have potentially changed the game,” Donen said, “or potentially changed the whole weekend.”

The Cascades were missing setter Ryan Thain (finger) and left side Kurtis Stromdahl (ankle). Right side Joel Kleingeltink led UFV on Friday with nine kills, while Robert Koenig chipped in with six kills and three blocks.

The next day Camosun closed out the sweep with set scores of 25-19, 25-19, and 25-22.

Kleingeltink led the team with nine kills and seven digs. Koenig, Josh Togeretz and Robert Bauerfind posted three kills apiece for the Cascades, who led 21-19 in the third set before Camosun reeled off six of the final seven points.

Both teams came into the weekend among the top 15 teams in the CCAA national rankings – Camosun at no. 12 and UFV at no. 14. The Cascades have won 21 sets and lost 23 so far this year.

“We’ve showed that we’re capable of beating any team in the league,” said Donen. “We’ve put ourselves in a position to win every match that we’ve played this year.”