When the men’s Avalanche headed down to Vancouver Island University in the autumn semester, they did the impossible.
Okay, maybe not the impossible, but they pulled off something they’ve never done before—they stole a pair of wins in the Mariners home gym in Nanaimo.
Now, the Mariners are coming up to Cranbrook for some rematches this weekend.
The Avs entering their fourth consecutive weekend where they play host to other Pacwest teams. Over the course of that time, the men have taken a match away from the CBC Bearcats, and swept the UFV Cascades.
Suffice to say, the home court advantage has made for good returns in the Avs win column.
“It’s awesome,” said setter Nick Schmidt. “We actually have the best fans in the league, I think. We have the most fans show up, its always loud and the crowd’s always into it, so they contribute quite a bit, too.”
The men are coming off a pair of losses to the Camosun College Chargers—of which one match went to five sets—and are still feeling a little burned by it.
“We were in positions where we could’ve won every set in every game,” continued Schmidt. “We were in positions right there—it was 22-20, 23-20 for us when we had the ball, its just a matter of finishing, I guess, and that’s what we talked about.”
Head coach Steve Kamps said the team has to learn from the mistakes made against Camosun and focus ahead on the Mariners.
“Obviously a letdown last week. We felt like we played good enough to win both matches, especially on Friday, we just seemed to be finding ways to lose volleyball matches,” said Kamps.
“We outplay a team for three-quarters or more of the night and find a way to lose right at the end of sets so I think our focus is on this weekend now, we have to move past that and we still have some work to do to make the playoffs and it’s our last chance at home here to play well before we go on the last road trip.”
The VIU Mariners are a new look team from the fall, repositioning a fifth-year right side into a setter and adding a new right side who recorded a lot of kills against Capilano University last weekend, according to Kamps, who reviewed some game tape with the team this week.
“Overall, we’ve watched some of the tendencies and it’s just about us and really focusing on finishing sets when we’re ahead by five or six come 20 and we’ve had a difficult time doing that,” Kamps said.
While the men dropped both matches last weekend, the ladies Av’s picked up a win in a tiebreak set, rallying from 14-9 to post a 16-14 result against the Chargers.
The ladies will be heading into another tough weekend, as the women’s Mariners are the top ranked team in the Pacwest league—tied at first place with the UFV Cascades.
The women start their match at 6 p.m. on Friday, followed by the men at 8 p.m. On Saturday, the women will begin at 1 p.m. with the men at 3 p.m.