*This is a College of the Rockies Avalanche weekend recap that I wrote for the Cranbrook Townsman .*
On Friday night, the College of the Rockies Avalanche men earned an emotional fifth set victory over the Douglas College Royals.
It was a seesaw battle with the Avs losing the first set 16-25 before coming back at the Royals with a 25-16 victory of their own. They then were put back on the ropes with a 21-25 loss, came back with a 25-22 win and finally squeaked out the deciding 15-13 nailbiter.
Unfortunately, it was the only game either COTR team won all week.
“I was extremely disappointed in our team because we really didn’t compete this weekend,” said men’s head coach Herb Tepper. “It’s always our goal to be competitive and [achieved that] on one night.”
Even in that match, Tepper admitted they were lucky.
“[There was] an extremely poor miscall by the ref at the end, that gave us the match,” he said. “We were quite fortunate to even get one win this weekend.”
Both Avs teams suffered some of their worst defeats on the four-match road trip, but overall the trip may have been even harder on the women.
While the men entered 0-4 and not expected to make too much of a splash, with three wins and only one loss to kick off 2017, the women looked poised to make an impact against the Royals and the Capilano University Blues on the road.
Despite being in second place in the PACWEST, the Avs competed valiantly in their first match against Douglas.
Although they fell in the first two sets while resting key players like captain Mikaela Pushor, star power hitter Alexa Koshman, starting setter Sarah Wood, and libero Mackenzie Morey, the scrappy Avs nearly took the match to a fifth set, losing a heartbreaking 26-24 fourth.
“On Thursday, we had a bit of a rough start, we were down 9-0 at the start of the first said,” said head coach John Swanson. “The ladies came back [though] down 2-0 in that opening match and we were right there in the fourth.
“[I] was really proud of the ladies for not giving up and playing hard.”
The next day, the team came out completely flat and their match was over in a flash with 25-11, 25-12 and 25-13 losses.
“[That] was our worst match of the year, for sure,” Swanson said. “We struggled in all aspects [of the game]. [Our] passing, serving, and attacking [were poor] and we didn’t block or defend.
“Generally we try to take something [positive] from every match [but] there wasn’t anything there. We just turned the page.”
On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, the COTR women looked much sharper taking both matches to four sets and putting up much better numbers, but they still came home on Sunday night with a goose egg in the win department.
“On Saturday [after the first set], we got into some poor play,” Swanson said. “We struggled with our blocking, which put us in a tough spot because then we were defending the whole time and couldn’t attack.
“Sunday was a complete change [though], we played very well and it was the best blocking match we’ve had all season. I think we deserved to probably win that match and I was really proud of the way the ladies competed.”
Outside of the Friday night win, the Avs men didn’t have a lot of success at all. They lost 3-1 on their first night at Douglas, took Capilano to a fifth set on Saturday before being annihilated 15-5, and wrapped up the trip with a 3-0 sweep.
Outside hitter Patrik Toze led the men’s team offensively with 42 kills in the four matches, with a high of 17 in their win on Friday. Libero Blake Thomson, meanwhile, had a team-leading 27 digs, and outside hitter David Dobson was solid all around with 29 kills, 26 digs, and 7 ace serves.
For the women, Koshman and Adriel Goodman led the team in kills with 34 each, and Goodman also put up the most digs with 46.
Both teams exited the weekend with records only above one other team in their respective conferences. The men are alone in sixth place and the women are tied for fourth. The COTR program will face the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, who are both in seventh-place, at home this weekend.