CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photo Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures
In a matchup of two of the top-ranked teams in the CCAA, the sixth-ranked Capilano University Blues and #5 Vancouver Island University Mariners battled to an entertaining weekend split in Nanaimo this past weekend.
Friday night saw CapU prevail in five sets, with three sets decided by two points and none decided by more than four. After a 26-24 decision for VIU in the opening frame, the second set ended up making history. The two teams traded blows and staved off set point time after time – often after some frantic rallies – before the Blues finally took the set 44-42 on a kill by Justin Yee. It was the highest-scoring set in PACWEST history, and it’s believed to be the highest in CCAA history as well.
“For me, what mattered at that time was to win the set,” said CapU head coach Emmanuel Denguessi. “How far the set went was not our target. I am glad we are part of history, but I more proud to see the way my players have matured to the point that they can be resilient to win a long challenging set.”
Capilano took the next frame 25-23 before the Mariners rallied to extend the set with a 25-21 win. Yet the Blues responded in the final game, getting out to an early lead and staving off a late push to win the match with a 15-12 win.
Third-year setter Simon Friesen racked up a total of 58 assists in the match, which went along with a game-high 17 digs. Yee totaled a team-high 16 kills, 15 digs, and four aces, while Kevin Chiu, Zarley Zalusky, and Mattias Wels-Lopez also reached double-digits in kills. Zalusky also had a strong game at the middle position, recording six blocks.
Saturday’s contest was another closely-contest affair, with VIU responding to earn a weekend split with a 3-1 win (25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 26-24). The Blues looked poised to force a fifth set, but the Mariners pulled together late in the fourth frame to close out the match and hand Capilano their first loss of the regular season.
Friesen broke the century mark for assists on the weekend with 53 in Saturday’s game, while Jacob Hopkins was the main beneficiary with 21 kills. Hopkins also hit double-digits in digs with 10, while Jonathan Lee led the team in that category with 19.
“I think it was a game featuring the two best teams of the league so far; it was revealed by the closeness of score,” said Denguessi. “The decisions both night were made in the last moments on mistakes that decided the outcome. VIU is a very hard team to play against, but I am proud of my players to have offered the quality of game they provided.
“I have to say that we will be better than this weekend, and it will be interesting to see.”
Capilano remains atop the PACWEST standings with a 7-1 record, while VIU sits in third at 4-2. The Blues will be back in action this upcoming week when they travel to Abbotsford to take on the 1-5 Columbia Bible College Bearcats on Thursday, November 9 and Saturday, November 11.