Photo/Story Credit: Jessica Dempsey - Cranbrook Townsman
The College of the Rockies Avalanche volleyball teams are gearing up for a travel-heavy second half of their schedule.
They will kick off the second semester with games on Jan. 11 and on Jan. 12 against Douglas College at home before hitting the road.
The Avalanche men's team will be facing a high powered Douglas team who sit atop the PACWEST standings.
"They probably have the cleanest system in our conference and they are coming at us at really high velocity. But, with that being said I think we match up well with them. I think we are a little taller than them overall, and I think we played them really tough in Vancouver the first semester," said head coach Cisco Farrero.
Back on Oct. 13 and 14 the Avalanche were at Douglas and lost both matches 3-0.
"Douglas probably has two of the best players right now," said setter Chris Dzioba.
"Their left side and their right side are very dominant, but they are definitely not as strong at other positions and they rely heavily on those two guys. To keep them out of what they want to do [we have to] keep them out of their system then they don't have anything to come back with."
The Avalanche currently sit fifth in the PACWEST standings and are in a playoff spot.
"We are going to see one of those top four in a quarterfinal, so we have to prove to ourselves that we [can] beat them. We have hung with the teams, but we haven't cracked through yet and I think for us to get one of those starting this weekend against Douglas will be really important for us," explained Farrero.
Going into the second-half, Farrero says he expects the team to really play together as a whole.
"We need to be balanced," he said. "We have had some good individual nights, but it has been rare we have put our whole team together and had a really good game all at the same time." Ferrro added he expects to see a strong second-half from libero Reece Wilson and setter Mark Armstrong.
Outside hitter Kyle Butchart says he's happy about the second half of the season starting because he was sidelined for most of the first with an ankle injury.
"I'm back now, and all the guys are looking healthy, so we have a full roster to tackle the second semester with," he said.
Most of the games are on the road this semester and the team will have to play four games in four nights twice.
"Four games in four days is always hard, but it's always fun travelling with the boys and we mesh pretty well on the road since we live pretty far away from all the Lower Mainland teams. So, I feel like we are pretty comfortable with it by now," said Butchart.
The Avalanche female volleyball team are also going to be facing a top Douglas team this weekend.
Douglas is currently second in the PACWEST standings and won the last meeting on Oct. 13 and 14.
"It's going to be a challenge. It will be a tough match for us, but I think we need to stay composed and not get rattled if we get down too much. They are going to hit well and we are just going to have to have that maturity to hang in there and expect they will have some big hits," said head coach John Swanson.
The Avalanche are sitting in a PACWEST playoff spot, and have gone 3-9 for six points.
To get a win against Douglas, middle blocker Randi Dalquist said the team will have to play hard.
"A lot of hard work that's a big thing with us. Just getting excited and getting our serves in. We have had a really good week of practice and a lot of girls in new positions, but I'm really looking forward to it," she said.
Going into the second half of the season, Swanson says he thinks the first year players will come out strong.
"That first-semester anxiety should dissipate some, I know talking with some they are a lot more comfortable in those types of things," he said.
The team is also welcoming a new player to their roster outside hitter Chantelle Dobie.
"She's getting into the mix and has a lot of potential," added Swanson.
With the second half, Swanson notes he plans to lean on the team collectively and not just one player in games.
"Collectively we are going to have to ask every one of our players to play at a very high level and contribute in individual capacities," he said.
The Avalanche are hosting the PACWEST Championship tournament this year, and both teams are extremely excited for it.
"Provincials will be awesome. We have already had people come out for regular games, but I feel like for provincials, seeing people come out and seeing younger players come out that want to play post-secondary [they] will be able to look up to us and look up to the players from other schools," said outside hitter Abigail Taggart.
First serve for Jan. 11 against Douglas at College of the Rockies gym is 6 p.m. for the women and 8 p.m. for the men. On Jan. 12 first serve will be 1 p.m. for the women and 3 p.m. for the men.