Photo and Story Credit: Brad McLeod - Cranbrook Townsman
Heading into the penultimate weekend of their regular season, neither College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams are in an ideal position.
The women's team is safe in the sixth and final postseason position, but haven't been able to string together back-to-back wins since the opening matches of the season.
The men, meanwhile, are tied for seventh place and need at least one win in their last four games to have a shot at making the PACWEST Provincial tournament.
"We're still tied with CBC for the last playoff spot and with four games left, all at home, our squad is looking for the chance to earn the last playoff spot," men's head coach Cisco Farrero said after their tough road trip last weekend, in which they went 0-4 and didn't manage a single win.
The Avs and the Columbia Bible College Bearcats both have 4-16 records with two weekends left, but as CBC own the head-to-head tiebreaker, COTR need to win more games than them to advance to the playoffs.
The Avalanche play the Royals and then the University of Fraser Valley Cascades (both tied in third-place with 9-9 records) to close out the season, while CBC also faces UFV but also play the fifth-place Camosun College Chargers (8-10).
During their only two previous games this season, COTR split with the Royals in late October while on the road in New Westminster.
After rough outings against Camosun and Vancouver Island University, Farrero believes things won't get much easier against Douglas.
"Douglas is an athletic squad that really relies on their three top outside attackers and a veteran setter," he said. "They aren't as tall as Camosun or quite as experienced as VIU but they definitely are playing their best at this point in the season."
Royals power hitter Reid Marriott is the current conference kill-leader and is averaging 4.18 kills per set. Matt Cespedes is the Avs leader in the category with a 2.38 average.
On the women's side, COTR had little success against Douglas in their prior meetings, losing both 3-1 on the road.
According to head coach John Swanson, after a mostly disappointing final road trip, the home matches will be tough once again.
"Douglas will be another very tough team [and] are similar to VIU in that they are very athletic and experienced," Swanson said. "We will have to match their physical play and keep up our intensity."
The Royals have a top libero in Cladia Corneil and also a dominant attacker in Caet McCorkell, who is second in the league with a 3.40 kills-pet-set average. For the Avs, Megan Clark has been a solid libero this season and veteran right side hitter Megan Beckett is their kill-leader with a 2.81 average.
Alexa Koshman, meanwhile, can play both areas of the game exceptionally well and despite missing a large portion of the year's first semester, she cracked the PACWEST's top 15 rankings in digs and kills for week 11.
This week's action gets started at 6 p.m. on Friday with the women's teams and then continues on at 8 p.m. with the men. The following day, rematches take place at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the afternoon.