CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director
The Capilano University Blues men’s volleyball team started their 2018-19 PACWEST campaign on a winning note, defeating the College of the Rockies Avalanche 3-1 on Thursday night in North Vancouver.
After a bit of a slow start that resulted in them playing from behind in each of the first two frames, the Blues found their groove down the stretch to secure identical 25-23 victories in sets one and two. COTR responded with a convincing 25-15 victory in the third set to extend the match, but CapU took control of the fourth to close out the night with a 25-15 win of their own.
“We’re developing our identity as a team, and to come out in the first two sets of the season and to be down and to chip away, and squeak it out in the end, it just says that you’re a team that – if I’m the opponent, I don’t want to keep sets close,” said first-year head coach Dave Dooley, who picked up his first career PACWEST win in his first game at CapU. “And for us, as long as we keep sets close, there’s going to be some tremendous belief in our huddle, which is awesome to start out that way.”
The Blues trailed 15-11 in the first set after three consecutive aces by COTR’s Matt Cespedes, but a timeout helped the home team regroup. Led by high-powered serving, Capilano chipped away to tie things at 19 and go up by one at 24-23, and after a COTR timeout the Blues closed out the frame.
The second set followed a similar script, as Capilano was forced into an early timeout after going down 5-1. Once again, the Blues slowly chipped away at the deficit, taking the lead at 20-19 and then closing out another two-point victory.
After the Avalanche pulled away down the stretch of the third set to force another frame, Capilano took control of the fourth from the get-go and eliminated any chance of a comeback with a decisive 25-15 win to secure the opening night win.
“Opening night is going to be full of nerves and a bit of a roller coast, and is almost who can just maintain and stay consistent is going to win, and the guys did that,” said Dooley. “It was a team effort, which was great. Stressing the importance of being a team of 20, not a team of six. Obviously not all 20 aren’t going to get in on a given night, but guys were playing their roles to a T, and I just look down the bench and trust all those guys, which is rare this early in the season. And they played some key, key roles late in those tight first and second sets, which was awesome.”
The Blues and Avalanche square off again Friday night, with first serve at 8:00pm in the Centre for Sport and Wellness (formerly Sportsplex) on the CapU campus in North Vancouver.