Bearcats volleyball men win PacWest silver

Brendan Folkerts (12) of the Columbia Bible College men
Brendan Folkerts (12) of the Columbia Bible College men's volleyball team hammers a shot down the line against the Douglas Royals during the PacWest title game.
— image credit: PacWest photo

The Columbia Bible College men’s volleyball team made a run to the PacWest conference finals last weekend, yielding a silver medal and a ticket to the national championship.

"It was certainly a goal of ours from the beginning of the year," said Bearcats coach Phil Wiens, reflecting the national championship berth. "We always felt we had the talent level to win a national championship, and that's what we want to do.

"We can't wait to get there."

The Bearcats came into the conference playoffs at Capilano University in North Vancouver as the top seed by virtue of their 16-8 record, and had a bye into Friday’s semifinals.

They faced the fifth-seeded College of the Rockies Avalanche with a trip to nationals on the line, and won in decisive fashion (25-18, 25-20, 25-19).

That set up a clash with the Douglas Royals for the PacWest title, and while the Bearcats got off to a great start and won the first set, the Royals prevailed in four (22-25, 25-17, 25-16, 25-21).

"First and foremost, we were really impressed with the way Douglas played," Wiens said. "They showed up ready to go, and we weren't quite ready. We never quite recovered after the second set, never really found our game.

"Hopefully we'll learn some lessons from that."

Regardless, the CBC men advance to the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) national championship, March 5-8 in Moose Jaw, Sask. The ’Cats last won nationals in 2011, and finished fourth in 2012 as the host team.

In Moose Jaw, they'll be seeded No. 5 and face the Ontario runner-up Humber Hawks in the first round. The game sets up as a fascinating match-up between two former national championship MVPs – Will Quiring led CBC to the 2011 crown, and Abbotsford volleyball fans will remember Terrel Bramwell's 45-kill outing in Humber's title-game victory over Douglas in 2012.

"I don't think you stop him, but I think we can certainly contain him," Wiens said of Bramwell. "We have the size this year where he won't be able to just go over top of our guys, which he does to a lot of guys.

"More than anything, it comes down to us executing our offence. If we can side out consistently and contain him (Bramwell), steal some points here and there, then that will be the match."


On the women’s side of the PacWest tourney, both Abbotsford teams suffered disappointing results.

The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades were the defending PacWest and CCAA champs, and had a bye to the semis thanks to a sparkling 20-4 regular season record.

But UFV, ranked No. 5 in the CCAA, stunningly missed the podium after falling to the host Capilano Blues (25-19, 25-23, 25-23) in the semis and to the Camosun Chargers (22-25, 25-13, 22-25, 25-22, 16-14) in the bronze medal game.

“It goes without saying that we did not accomplish our hopes,” Cascades head coach Dennis Bokenfohr stated in a press release. “Each year we pursue a national title. This year we fell short in our goal in a fashion that is not sitting well with any of us.

"The reality is that losing is an option, even if it is not desired. It has been a good season clouded by a couple of bad games at the end.

"No excuses. We came up short with our result. Our hope and desire is to not make this a habit.”

The fifth-seeded CBC women, meanwhile, faced Camosun in Thursday’s quarter-finals and won the first and third sets. But the Chargers rallied to win in five (8-25, 25-20, 17-25, 25-20, 15-9).

"It was a good start, but as has sort of been the M.O. for us over the whole season, it became a bit of a roller-coaster ride," Bearcats coach Duncan Harrison said. "We'd play really strong for 10 or 15 points and fade out for 10 or 15, and we couldn't seem to keep any sustained momentum.

"The girls fought hard – it wasn't an issue of work ethic or anything like that, so it's hard to get too frustrated with it."

The Bearcats, coming off a PacWest silver medal and a national championship berth last season, had big dreams for 2013-14 after bringing back a veteran-laden roster. But after star setter Anna Cupido tore an ACL on opening weekend vs. UFV, they struggled mightily in the first semester and ended up fifth in the conference during the regular season.

But Harrison saw plenty of silver linings, namely the play of Maria Cupido (Anna's sister) as a stopgap setter and the growth of PacWest all-rookie team members Jodie Enns and Kendal Venzke.


On the PacWest basketball scene, the Bearcats men’s and women’s teams wrapped up their season with road losses to the Kwantlen Eagles on Friday, by respective scores of 87-76 and 85-50.

Neither the CBC men (3-18) or women (1-20) will advance to the playoffs.

"At the start of the year, I think we had a team that was capable of accomplishing some things," said CBC men's coach Matt Guynup, whose team lost leading scorer Marcio Juk, a Brazilian, due to visa issues after the first semester.

"We'll continue to build from this point, learn our lessons and move forward. That's what I'm taking from the year."

Bright spots for the Bearcats men included Hudson Naylor finishing fourth in PacWest scoring at 19.0 points per game, and Seth Sorensen ending up third in the league in assists at 4.1 per game.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.