CJ Pentland, CapU Sport Information Director
The Capilano University Blues men’s volleyball team is back in the PACWEST semifinals for the second season in a row, having defeated the Columbia Bible College Bearcats 3-0 in Thursday afternoon’s quarterfinal match at the PACWEST Volleyball Championships in Cranbrook.
It was a well-rounded effort for the #3 seeded CapU, who received contributions from up and down the bench. Nine different players had at least one kill and nine had at least one dig, and as a whole the Blues posted a hitting percentage of .352. After a bit of a slow start that saw the Blues pull out a close 25-22 victory in the opening frame, they found their stride in the second set and rolled to wins of 25-11 and 25-17 to close out the sweep.
“Full credit to CBC, they battled all year and they battled in that first set and really made us earn that one,” said head coach Dave Dooley, who was making his playoff coaching debut for CapU. “We wouldn’t have liked it to be so close, but it’s great to be tested and feel that and come out on top.”
Despite some early unforced errors, the Blues were eventually powered by a strong performance at the service line – totaling 13 aces and consistently disrupting the CBC attack with tough spin serves. Six different players had at least one ace, led by Simon Friesen who tied a Blues men’s volleyball playoff record for aces in a game with six.
“I think that there’s always a little bit of nerves coming in to provincials, first game especially,” said Friesen, who was named Player of the Game for Capilano. “Our game plan was just to talk through that and try to be the louder team out there, and to communicate and play for each other. … I felt confident in myself, the team, the coaches, our whole program. We had a lot of confidence coming in to this game.”
Third-year middle Markiel Simpson had a team-high 10 kills on a .562 hitting percentage, and Justin Yee had eight to go along with two aces and four digs. On the defensive side, the Blues held CBC to a .140 hitting percentage and just one ace.
“CBC was coming into this one loose and all the pressure was on us, so it was nice to see our boys respond and come out on top,” said Dooley. “For a lot of these guys this is their first playoff win of their careers, so the monkey is off their back and the pressure is off going forward.”
The Blues win their first postseason game since 2013, which also happened in Cranbrook when COTR last hosted; 2013 was also the last time the Blues won PACWEST gold. They’ll now face the #2 seed Camosun College Chargers in the semifinals on Friday at 2:00pm PST. CapU went 1-3 against the Chargers this season, having dropped their last meeting 3-2 on January 19. All tournament games can be streamed online at pacwestbc.tv.