When Cisco Farrero took over as the head coach of the College of the Rockies men’s Avalanche volleyball program last summer, he didn’t have a lot of time to build his team.
With the recruiting window essentially closed before his arrival, he inherited a short bench with only two returning starters from the team’s previous season.
Nevertheless, the coach embraced the challenge, and led the group to a sixth-place finish and a berth in the PACWEST Provincial Championships in Abbotsford last weekend. The Avs lost in straight sets to the Camosun Chargers and were eliminated in the first round, but Farrero said that, overall, he was proud of the team’s season.
“I won’t be satisfied until we are competing directly for conference championships on an annual basis, but I’m happy with how this group of athletes handled adversity,” Farrero said. “We lacked depth this year, but [we] played with a ton of heart, and set a solid foundation in place for the attitude of the program going forward.”
The Avs finished the season with a 5-19 record, just enough to make the playoffs, but drew a very tough opponent in Camosun, who ended up winning their fourth straight PACWEST title.
“This is a group that embraced new roles and new challenges, and really stuck together,” Farrero said. “I’m proud of the way the group of athletes embraced my coaching style without hesitation.
“The PACWEST is a strong conference. Winning takes consistency night in and night out. I think our athletes that took on bigger roles really learned about being responsible for their performance, [which will help us moving forward].”
While the team will lose Thomson, Lins and James — who all had team MVP-calibre seasons — COTR already has an impressive recruiting class to go with their developing returnees.
Highlighted by a pair of local standouts in graduating Mount Baker Secondary Wild athletes Caleb Peters and Quinn Grist, who both were part of the Wild’s silver medal winning team at the B.C. High School AAA Provincial tournament, seven rookies have already committed to the Avs for next year.
“I’m excited to have [more] competition in practice and depth in our training,” Farrero said. “Better practices makes a team better because athletes are getting pushed by their teammates. I’m excited for our returners to take additional steps in their growth, and I’m equally excited about this recruiting class. We will have some high impact freshmen joining our program in the fall.”
“I want to compete for PACWEST championships on an annual basis, but I also understand that programs take time to develop and grow,” the coach explained. “A realistic step for this group next year would be to be playing in a semi-final next season.”
The Avs 2018-19 preseason should begin in early September, with the regular season starting up again in late October.