Photo and Story Credit: Brad McLeod - Cranbrook Townsman
The College of the Rockies Avalanche men's volleyball team (4-16) need to win at least one match before the end of the season to make the PACWEST provincial tournament.
While that might not seem like a herculean task, playing teams like the Camosun College Chargers (8-10) and the Vancouver Island University Mariners (15-3) make it extremely difficult.
Playing in their final road trip of 2017-18, the Avs failed to pick up a single set win while playing back-to-backs against Camosun and VIU last weekend. According to head coach Cisco Farrero, while they knew heading in that the matches would not be easy, their play was also often disappointing.
On Thursday night at Camosun, the Avs kicked of the trip by only losing 25-20 in the first set, but were then hammered 25-14 twice to end their night early. Friday was a battle with the Chargers, but had the same end result — a 28-26 opening led into a 25-22 loss and then a 25-20 defeat.
"Camosun played their best game of the season on Thursday and served extremely well," Farrero said. "Friday night was our best performance [but] Camosun played well too [and] we just didn't do the little things well enough at the end of each of the three sets in order to find a way to win.
"Camosun is a really big [group] and we are a team of guys that are mostly cutting their teeth in their first season of actually getting to play in the conference."
In Nanaimo the following night, the Avs found themselves playing an even better team who are gearing up for a Provincial title run with close to flawless execution.
The Mariners blasted the Avs during the first match, winning in straight sets by scores of 25-15, 25-17 and 25-14. The Sunday afternoon closer was similar, with 25-22, 25-14 and 25-15 victories for VIU.
"VIU is probably the best team in our conference and they really took it to us both days," Farrero explained. "There's definitely a size and experience gap between us and VIU right now [and I also] think our smaller roster number impacts us a bit in regards to fatigue and depth in practice."
While Farrero said that the entire roster was fairly inconsistent throughout the weekend, leading the way for the struggling Avs was sophomore outside hitter Matt Cespedes who led the team in kills before being forced out of their Sunday match with a minor injury.
Cespedes had 26 kills and 15 digs in nine sets, continuing an impressive breakout season.
With four remaining matches, all at home, and being currently tied in last place in the PACWEST with the Columbia Bible College Bearcats (who hold the head-to-head season series tiebreaker), Farrero is confident that the team will do their best to challenge for a spot at Provincials.
This coming weekend, the Avs play back-to-back matches against the Douglas College Royals, a team they managed to beat back at the end of October in a five-setter in New Westminster. COTR is current on an 11-game losing streak, while Douglas is on a four-game winning streak.
"Douglas is an athletic squad that really relies on their three top outside attackers and a veteran setter," Farrero said of the challenge ahead. "They aren't as tall as Camosun or quite as experienced as VIU, but they are definitely playing their best at this point in the season."
Friday night's game at the COTR gymnasium starts at 8 p.m. following the women's match at 6 p.m. The Avs then play at 3 p.m. on Saturday, before ending their season against the University of Fraser Valley Cascades the following weekend.