Capilano Blues players Mattias Wels-Lopez, left, and Simon Friesen and VIU Mariners player Jeff Webb play above the net during a PacWest match Saturday at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium. The teams played a record-setting set the night before. (GREG SAKAKI/The News Bulletin)

VIU volleyball team part of highest-scoring set ever

Vancouver Island University Mariners men's squad drops 44-42 set to Capilano Blues

It wasn’t just a marathon match, it was a record-setting one.

The VIU Mariners and the Capilano Blues men’s volleyball teams played the highest-scoring set in PacWest history, and possibly Canadian college history, on Friday at the Vancouver Island University gym. The Blues won that second set 44-42 as part of a five-set victory that night.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who have been around volleyball for a long time and they’ve never heard of a 40-point game ever…” said Abe Avender, coach of VIU’s men. “I’ve rarely ever seen [scores] in the 30s, like the early 30s, maybe, but when it hit 40 and some of those rallies, it was insane. Looking at the scoreboard, it looked weird, like it was a basketball game or something.”

Pacific Western Athletic Association sports information director Andre Tee confirmed that the set is a PacWest scoring record, and Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s volleyball convenor Ray Sarkis said via e-mail that he is “not aware of any such score for a volleyball set anywhere in the country in the CCAA.”

Avender said some of the set was prototypical powerful men’s college volleyball, with side out after side out. But the Mariners recognize they made mistakes that kept them from winning.

“I’ve never had a set like that in my life. It was pretty cool to be in,” said Braydon Brouwer, Mariners player. “But after 25, we missed seven serves. We pretty much gave them that win.”

There was a bit of a letdown in the third set, which the M’s lost, though they recovered to win the fourth set before losing in five, 24-26, 44-42, 25-23, 21-25, 15-12.

Avender said his group doesn’t accept losing and they don’t joke around in the locker room afterward; they’re quiet and they understand that their training and practice is meant to lead to winning results.

The Mariners turned it around the next day, winning the rematch, 25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 26-24 to hand the Blues their first loss of the season.

“I always ask the guys, ‘How are you going to respond?’ And it was nice to see that they came out with some good fight and grabbed the win,” said Avender.

He said the calibre of players on the M’s roster makes him excited about the team’s potential this season.

“It’s learning how we play with each other, but the vibe’s great, the guys are working hard, they’re dedicated, they’re motivated and they want to do well,” Avender said.

Brouwer said he likes the way the Mariners have been progressing.

“We’re going to be a good team in a couple months and when that time comes, it’s going to be hard for some teams to play with us, if we can keep pushing, keep putting in work,” he said.

VIU’s women’s volleyball team, meanwhile, swept its matches against Cap, winning 25-27, 25-17, 26-24, 25-22 on Friday and then 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-21 on Saturday.

The Mariners volleyball teams are on the road at College of the Rockies next weekend, Nov. 10-11.

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