VIU volleyball gets in groove

Vancouver Island University Mariners volleyball player Nigel Proch bumps the ball at practice Tuesday evening at the VIU gym. Both M’s teams are at home this weekend to host Fraser Valley on Friday (Jan. 21) and Columbia Bible College on Saturday.

Vancouver Island University Mariners volleyball player Nigel Proch bumps the ball at practice Tuesday evening at the VIU gym. Both M’s teams are at home this weekend to host Fraser Valley on Friday (Jan. 21) and Columbia Bible College on Saturday.

For the VIU Mariners volleyball teams, there’s no better time to make an impact in the standings.

Vancouver Island University’s volleyball teams are in the midst of a stretch of five straight matches in their home gym this month.

Both the women (9-0) and the men (6-3) started the January schedule with victories over the Camosun Chargers last Friday, and now they’re preparing to host the Fraser Valley Cascades this Friday (Jan. 21) and the Columbia Bible College Bearcats on Saturday.

Even though the VIU women won their match against Camosun three games to one, the team wasn’t satisfied. Coach Shane Hyde said the M’s are trying to treat that win as a loss to motivate them to practise harder this week. Hyde attributes some of last week’s performance to nerves coming off the holiday break and playing in front of a packed gym.

“We’ve got that under our belt,” he said. “I think you’ll see the team be relaxed and be a little bit more comfortable with playing in front of their home crowd.”

That will be important particularly for Friday’s match against Fraser Valley, one that the M’s say they’ve been looking forward to for some time.

The Cascades are a well-coached team that run a fast offence and boast a strong middle.

“It’s definitely an exciting game against UFC, so we’re pretty stoked for that,” said Jacqueline Doleman, VIU veteran. “It’s high tempo when we play them and they keep us on our toes, so it’s always a good match.”

As for the Mariner men, they also have an idea what it will take to beat UFV and CBC this weekend.

“The first time we played UFV … we were expecting a lot more from them and we played really well because of it,” said Nigel Proch, M’s veteran. “And then the next night we were underestimating CBC and it hurt us.”

With the B.C. Colleges’ Athletic Association playoff race entering the stretch run, the matches seem to become more important. The third-place VIU men are just two points up on the fourth-place Bearcats, and both would love to move up and earn a first-round bye at provincials.

“If you take two wins this weekend and two wins next weekend, you’re looking really good to take that spot,” said Abe Avender, co-coach of the M’s men. “So definitely the guys know that both matches are critical.”

GAME ON … On Friday the women play at 6 p.m. and the men go at 7:45 p.m. Saturday’s matches start at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com