Blues battle for split in weekend opener

Capilano first-year outside hitter Emma Schill
Capilano first-year outside hitter Emma Schill

CJ Pentland, CapU Sports Information Director / Photos Paul Yates, Vancouver Sports Pictures

In a back-and-forth weekend between Lower Mainland rivals, the Capilano University Blues women’s volleyball team suffered a close five-set defeat at the Douglas College Royals on Friday evening, but responded with a straight-sets victory on Saturday to earn a split in their opening weekend of PACWEST regular season play.

CapU setter Trina Ewashkiw

The Blues got out to a strong start on Friday, with rookie Emma Schill helping CapU get out to an early 11-7 lead with an effective service run. Douglas managed to hang around and eventually went on a run of their own, going ahead 15-13 and forcing a Capilano timeout. The Blues made several pushes over the remainder of the frame, but the Royals found ways to stay in front and close out the set 25-22.

The Blues again got out to an early lead in the second, with rookies Schill and Mackenzy Sparks-Guest both going on service runs to build up an 11-6 lead and force a Douglas timeout. The Royals battled back to force a CapU timeout at 16-14, and down the stretch there was never more than a two-point margin.

With Capilano ahead 24-22, the Royals took the next two points to tie things up and extend the set, and both teams proceeded to exchange points until things stood at 26-26. From there, Douglas made a service error, and then Anika Kolybaba came up with a solo block to close out the set 28-26 and even up the match.

CapU setter Trina Ewashkiw set the tone in the third set, as with her on the service line the Blues opened up a 7-0 lead in the frame and didn’t look back. Douglas made a late push, but Cap had built up too big of a lead and took a 2 sets to 1 lead with a 25-17 victory.

Douglas responded in the fourth frame and opened up an early lead of their own. They got up 12-5 before extending their lead to 10, but with rookie setter Zoe Dendes coming into the game for Cap, the Blues made things close and forced late timeouts at 22-19 and 23-22. Yet that was as close as the Blues got, as the Royals closed out the set 25-22 to force a fifth-and-final set.

Cap got out to a 3-0 lead in the final frame, but Douglas answered back with seven straight points of their own and then took an 8-5 lead into the changeover. Capilano took a timeout at 12-7 and stormed out of it with three straight points to force Douglas into a regroup of their own, but the Royals pulled together down the stretch to secure a 15-11 win in the set and 3-2 victory in the match.

Tyneille Neufeld led the Blues in multiple categories with 16 kills and 19 digs, while Schill also hit double digits with 12 kills and 13 digs. Ewashkiw totalled 47 assists on the evening, and Kolybaba and Meghan Koven each recorded four blocks apiece. 

On Saturday evening, the Blues build up another lead over the Royals and closed out the match in three sets to sniff out any Douglas comeback. After Capilano took the first set 25-21, they stayed composed down the stretch in the final two frames to come away with identical 25-23 victories to secure the sweep.

Capilano used a balanced attack on the evening, with Dendes playing at setter and spreading the ball around on offence to record 30 assists. Seven different Blues players registered a kill, with Neufeld and Isabela Lima leading the way with seven apiece. On defence, libero Tracy Ewashkiw accumulated 21 digs over the three sets.

Through one weekend of play, the Blues sit at 1-1 and in the middle of a crowded PACWEST standings. Next weekend they travel to Abbotsford to take on the undefeated University of the Fraser Valley Cascades; the games are at 6:00pm on Friday, October 20 and 5:00pm on Saturday, October 21, and both can be viewed on pacwestbc.tv.