VIU Mariners player Wayne Woyciehouski looks to hit the ball past a Fraser Valley Cascades opponent’s block Saturday at VIU.

VIU Mariners player Wayne Woyciehouski looks to hit the ball past a Fraser Valley Cascades opponent’s block Saturday at VIU.

Volleyball Mariners playing at a high level

Vancouver Island University’s men’s volleyball team has been pretty much unbeatable to start the PacWest season.

By raising their game, the VIU Mariners have raised their expectations, too.

Vancouver Island University’s men’s volleyball team has been pretty much unbeatable to start the Pacific Western Athletic Association season, winning all six of its matches and 18 out of 19 sets.

“Coming in, we definitely knew we had a lot of good pieces,” said Zach Grigg, a fifth-year veteran. “But it’s definitely a snowball effect here. We feel like we’re gaining momentum.”

Abe Avender, Mariners coach, said one of the major reasons for the team’s early success has been its improved depth. Sometimes in the past, the team relied on one or two offensive threats, but this season, as long as there’s a good pass, the setter has three or four options around him on the court.

“And then it makes it so difficult for the other side of the net,” Avender said. “With a single block, if you’re a good banger, you’re going to do fine with it.”

VIU is also finding success defensively, and the coach said “defence is attitude.” Versatile athletes are buying into doing what it takes.

“We work really hard in practice to try to bring it into the games, so I think it’s a combination of changing our mindset and training the right way,” Grigg said.

A storyline over the whole season will be PacWest volleyball provincials coming to the VIU gym at season’s end. Avender said the Mariners want opposing teams to feel like it “sucks” to have to play against the M’s on their home court.

Based on early-season results, the VIU men are on their way to building that invincibility.

“It’s really a fun culture,” Avender said. “The mindset in the room right now is we go to work and we get ’er done. And I think when you do it with the level of skill that we have, you can do some cool things.”

Volleyball teams take all four matches

VIU’s volleyball teams were winners on home court this past weekend.

VIU’s women’s and men’s volleyball teams won their matches Friday and Saturday against the Fraser Valley Cascades at the Vancouver Island University gymnasium.

The women (5-1) needed five sets on Friday to win 25-17, 25-20, 17-25, 16-25, 15-9, but won in straight sets the following afternoon, 25-15, 27-25, 25-20.

VIU’s men’s team beat UFV 25-17, 25-17, 28-30, 27-25 and then 25-21, 25-23, 25-22.

GAME ON … VIU’s men’s and women’s volleyball teams visit the Columbia Bible College Bearcats in Abbotsford on Friday (Nov. 4) and Saturday. Next home action isn’t until Nov. 25-26.

sports@nanaimobulletin.com