Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
In a matchup of two of the top teams not only in the PACWEST conference but all of Canada, the results were not surprisingly split down the middle as the Capilano Blues and Vancouver Island University (VIU) Mariners sawed off in their weekend set in Nanaimo.
The nationally No. 3-rated Blues prevailed 3-1 over the No. 4 Mariners in Saturday's opener, with outside hitters Rafael Hilario and Ben Friesen producing 14 and 13 kills respectively. In Sunday's rematch, it was VIU's turn with a 3-1 win of their own as they chalked up nine aces and 11 blocks.
On Saturday in the opener, the Blues were tentative early, dropping the first set after hitting just .095 with eight errors. They were a sharper club after that, belting a robust .429 in the second set with six different players getting kills along with aces from Enis Besirevic and Jacob Hopkins.
Capilano was prolific on the attack in the third set with seven different hitters scoring kills, thanks in large part to the misdirection and distribution skills of setter Simon Friesen. The 2018 national player of the year was in fine form, racking up 16 of his 42 assists on the night in the third set to put the Blues ahead 2-1 going to the fourth.
The Mariners didn't go away quietly in the decisive set however, forcing things to extra points. The home side led 23-21 after a Blues attacking error which forced Blues head coach Dave Dooley to call for a timeout to gather his troops. The disruption seemed to affect the Mariners as they stumbled with a service error and two attacking errors to give the lead back to Capilano.
This time it was a VIU timeout that was called for and each team's respective Brazilian international, Hilario and VIU's Dario De Queiroz-Pereira traded kills, the Blues put the match away thanks to another Mariners attack error and a kill by Ben Friesen.
In Sunday's rematch, extra points were needed in the first set but VIU took it when the Blues made errors on four of the final six points scored and lost a set they had once led 20-17.
VIU rode momentum into the second, scoring the most decisive set win of the weekend by a 25-15 count. The Mariners scored four consecutive points on two different occasions to take a firm grasp on the proceedings.
The Blues stayed alive in the third set, outhitting the Mariners .226 to .088 but the host team was the sharper side in the fourth rattling off runs of four and five consecutive points. Capilano rallied around a couple of kills each by James Fong and Hilario but it wasn't enough. VIU wound up taking the season series 3-1 as they won both games in their visit to CapU in October.
Capilano wraps up the regular season Feb. 14 and 15 with a home-and-home set against Douglas College. Saturday's home game at the Centre for Sport and Wellness is Senior Night to honour the graduating fifth-year players. The men's match starts at 7 p.m.