Brent Mutis, CapU Sport Information & Compliance Officer
Both women's and men's Blues volleyball teams finished 2019 on a high note as each side scored a 3-0 victory over the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) at home on Nov. 29.
For the men, it was their ninth win in a row and improved their record to 10-3 which puts them atop the PACWEST standings and has them ranked No. 9 in Canada. The Blues women's triumph over UFV gave them wins in two of their last three matches and they'll need to play at a similar pace in 2020 to ensure a spot in the PACWEST playoffs. (Douglas College is hosting the 2020 PACWEST Volleyball championships, February 20 to 22, at their New Westminster campus).
Because of the exam and holiday break, both teams will be idle for almost six weeks before starting up again in 2020. We'll have a look here at some of the important events on the calendar on the road to the postseason.
Saturday-Sunday, January 11-12 vs. COTR
The first game of the New Year would be an ideal time to make a statement and the women's team earned a split at COTR Nov. 1 and 2 so this is an opportunity to gain ground in the standings. Meghan Koven had one of her most dominant performances of the first half with 16 kills and just one attacking error in the Nov. 1 game and will play a key role in any Blues success in 2020 as she finishes her final college season.
For the men, it was the COTR road trip weekend that started the nine-game win streak they currently enjoy. The Avalanche carry a 4-10 record heading into the second half but will be a motivated club after the long layoff and they'll want to atone for the Blues success in their gym back in November. CapU held the Avalanche below a .200 hitting percentage in both games at COTR and the emergence of first-year middle Enis Besirevic has given the Blues a legitimate blocking presence.
"Our block-slash-defensive relationship and transition to attack will be a major area of focus for us as we move towards the championship push," said Blues head coach Dave Dooley." Keeping guys fresh and healthy will be instrumental as we look to peak at the right time, tapering (practice time) when we need to while still exposing guys to a high level of play in training."
Thursday-Friday, January 23-24 vs. CBC
A home-and-home set with CBC is big because they are currently trailing CapU in the women's standings. Failing to pick up at least a win from this set would breathe new life into a Bearcats side trying to claw its way into the postseason. Despite a massive 22 kills from Koven, the Blues failed to put CBC away in the second game of their trip to CBC Nov. 23, losing 19-17 in the fifth set. There will be no excuse for a lack of focus this time around. Olivia Humeston's five blocks against CBC last time is a good indicator of a developing Blues block system.
The Blues got 29 points of total offence from Jacob Hopkins the last time they faced the Bearcats but a diversified attack including Ben Friesen and Rafael Hilario means opponents can't expect success by keying on just one Blues hitter. Setter Simon Friesen has bested 30 assists on seven occasions this season, including each of the last two matches of 2019 so CBC may have its defence spread thin as they try to address the various potential Blues attacks.
Friday-Saturday, February 14-15 vs. Douglas College
Senior Night falls on the second night of this home-and-home set against crosstown rival Douglas College. Koven will be honoured for her five-year Blues career and on the court, it could be a crucial matchup as Douglas led CapU by just a couple of points going into the second half. The teams will not have seen each other since opening weekend so it'll be a good chance to get an update with playoffs looming.
This will be the final regular-season home game for fifth-year Blues setter Simon Friesen as well as his twin brother Ben who transferred to CapU this season from UFV. It's also an important night as Douglas will be hosting the provincials one week after and these could be the top-two seeds in PACWEST, if the standings after the first half are an indication.