John Swanson

Lady Avalanche set to defend title as PACWEST volleyball schedule released

College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball squads open season on road; home opener and ladies' championship banner raising set for Oct. 28

In sport, they say the only thing tougher than winning a championship is to defend one.

With Wednesday’s release of the 2016-17 PACWEST volleyball schedule, the College of the Rockies Avalanche women’s squad knows exactly what lies ahead if they’re to chase down a second consecutive provincial crown.

The Pacific Western Athletic Association (PACWEST) unveiled the itinerary for its upcoming college volleyball season Wednesday, with both the Lady Avs and men’s Avalanche squads slated to open the campaign on the road against the Camosun College Chargers on Oct. 13.

The 2015-16 PACWEST season went down in history for the women’s volleyball program at College of the Rockies, as the Lady Avalanche embarked on a cinderella run to the conference title, claiming gold after entering the tournament as the No. 6 seed with a 9-15 mark through the regular season.

Not only did the sixth-seeded Lady Avs take the crown, they did so by upsetting the Vancouver Island University Mariners — the tournament’s top seed after an astounding 20-4 regular season run.

Representing PACWEST as well as the East Kootenay at the CCAA Women’s Volleyball National Championships, the Lady Avs put forth an admirable effort en route to finishing 1-2 at the tournament.

On the men’s side of the net, the Avalanche enjoyed a bounce back year in 2015-16 going 9-15 and finishing fifth in regular season competition. A return to post-season play saw the men finish fourth at the 2016 PACWEST Championship in Abbotsford after missing out on the big dance in 2014-15.

While both Avalanche squads will open the season with consecutive weekends on the road, the party comes back to Cranbrook on Friday, Oct. 28. Not only does a weekend with the Douglas College Royals serve as the home-opening dates on the schedule, Friday evening will see the Lady Avs raise a banner to the rafters at College of the Rockies, celebrating their 2016 PACWEST championship.

Other notable dates on the schedule include an identification camp Aug. 13 and 14 at Parkland Middle School as the Avs’ home gymnasium at College of the Rockies undergoes renovations in preparation for the upcoming season.

From there, both Avalanche clubs will welcome the Ambrose College Lions (Calgary) for exhibition games (expected to be played at Parkland Middle School) on Sept. 9 and 10.

Wrapping up pre-season play, the Lady Avs will hit the highway their final tune-ups at Red Deer College during exhibition tournament action from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2.

The Avalanche will conclude regular season play with a double dose of home action in the month of February, hosting the Columbia Bible College Bearcats and University of the Fraser Valley Cascades, before the 2017 PACWEST Volleyball Championships run from Feb. 23 to 25 at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo.

PACWEST will also serve as the host conference for the 2017 CCAA National Volleyball Championships, as Camosun College welcomes the country from March 8 to 11.

With files from Barry Coulter

College of the Rockies Avalanche2016-17 PACWEST Schedule

Pre-season & Training campAug. 13-14: ID camp (Parkland Middle School)Sept. 9-10: Exhibition vs. Ambrose College (men & women; at Parkland)Sept. 30 to Oct. 2: Exhibition tournament (women at Red Deer College)

Regular season

OctoberOct. 13 at Camosun CollegeOct. 14 at Camosun CollegeOct. 15 at Vancouver Island UniversityOct. 16 at Vancouver Island UniversityOct. 28 vs. Douglas College — home-opener & banner raisingOct. 29 vs. Douglas College

NovemberNov. 4 vs. Capilano UniversityNov. 5 vs. Capilano UniversityNov. 24 at Columbia Bible CollegeNov. 25 at Columbia Bible CollegeNov. 26 at University of the Fraser ValleyNov. 27 at University of the Fraser Valley

JanuaryJan. 6 vs. Vancouver Island UniversityJan. 7 vs. Vancouver Island UniversityJan. 13 vs. Camosun CollegeJan. 14 vs. Camosun CollegeJan. 26 at Douglas CollegeJan. 27 at Douglas CollegeJan. 28 at Capilano UniversityJan. 29 at Capilano University

FebruaryFeb. 3 vs. Columbia Bible CollegeFeb. 4 vs. Columbia Bible CollegeFeb. 10 vs. University of the Fraser ValleyFeb. 11 vs. University of the Fraser ValleyFeb. 23 to 25 — PACWEST Volleyball Championships (at Vancouver Island University)

MarchMarch 8 to 11 — CCAA National Volleyball Championship (at Camosun College)