Avs middle Spencer Dakin Kuiper (#5) works the ball past Chargers left side Cameron Fennema (#6) Saturday afternoon. Camosun swept the Avs in two games over the weekend.

Keep calm & carry on

Avalanche aim to get on track against VIU Mariners in PACWEST volleyball action

Taylor Rocca

After a collective sweep at the hands of the Camosun College Chargers last weekend, both College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams look to turn things around this weekend when the Vancouver Island University Mariners visit Cranbrook.

The Avs (1-5) face a tall task if they’re to take down the Mariners (5-1), ranked second in PACWEST play heading into the weekend.

“If we can serve tough against this team, we’ll be very successful,” said Avs coach Steve Kamps prior to practice Wednesday.

The service line proved the downfall for the Avs this past weekend, as the Chargers edged the hosts 3-2 Friday, Nov. 7, before sweeping Saturday’s contest 3-0.

“Everybody’s got to figure out individually where they’re at,” Kamps said. “If we’re asking them to hit targets and they’re not comfortable with that, I’d rather them serve, for now, a ball into the court where they’re comfortable with it. At least it gives us a chance to score rather than, in their mind, not feeling like they can hit a certain area. Then, sure enough, they go back and miss that serve.

“Hopefully it’s one of those things, if you get on a confident roll, you can be successful.”

The Avs are guided by libero Mitch Parnham, who was named Avalanche Athlete of the Week with 17 digs against Camosun. The offense is powered by outside hitter Curtis Stockton, who leads PACWEST with 90 kills through 25 sets.

As for the Lady Avs (2-4), they look to climb back to the .500-mark this weekend against a Mariners team (1-5) that is better than its record might indicate.

“They have always been one of the top teams in the league,” said Lady Avs coach Andrew Zurrin after practice Wednesday night. “This year, they have a new setter and they’re working through their transition, but they have lots of excellent athletes.”

According to Zurrin the Mariners were sanctioned with four losses after using an ineligible player. With that in mind, the Lady Avs play-caller isn’t about to underestimate a tough Mariners squad.

“They’re tall, they’re athletic, but I think there’s holes in their defense,” Zurrin said. “They haven’t seen what we run, whatsoever. I think we have a really, really good shot.

“If we run our offence, get them with some speed, get them a lot of split blocks, I think we can capitalize on getting past their block, which is the strength of their defense, to the back court where they’re a little bit shaky.”

Last weekend, Zurrin lamented his team’s ability to engage its “killer instinct” against Camosun. The hope is a little work on mental toughness will help push the Lady Avs to embrace their ability to finish against the Mariners.

“If we’re making silly errors, we address them,” Zurrin said, describing his team’s approach to practice this week. “If we’re playing tentative, we address it. We just have to change the mentality to understand the pressure.”

Libero Alexa Koshman was named Avalanche Athlete of the Week for her performance against Camosun. The 5-foot-5 rookie from Lethbridge sits fifth in PACWEST with 67 digs in 23 sets.

Offensively, Kelsey Thompson continues to fuel the Lady Avs with 71 kills in 23 sets, good for fourth in PACWEST.

The Lady Avs and Mariners open the weekend Friday at 6 p.m. before wrapping up at 1 p.m. Saturday. The men fire up Friday at 8 p.m. and conclude the weekend festivities at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Campus Life staff will be putting on “Chuck a Duck” Friday. Ducks are $2 with prizes up for grabs.

The toss is anticipated to run in between the second and third set of the men’s game.

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