The Capilano Blues women completed a remarkable turnaround by bumping off a couple of higher-ranked teams on their way to a bronze medal showing at the PacWest volleyball championships held last week at Cranbrook’s College of the Rockies.
The fifth-ranked Blues started the tournament with a bang, defeating the fourth-ranked University of the Fraser Valley Cascades in a five-set thriller. Capilano actually started with whimper, losing the first two sets to the Cascades and looking like they were on their way to an early exit, but the Blues came roaring back for three straight set wins to take the match 16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 25-21, 18-16.
The Blues then lost in straight sets to top-ranked Vancouver Island University – the Mariners didn’t drop a set on their way to winning gold – but Capilano came back on Saturday to knock off third-ranked Camosun College 3-1 to earn bronze. Camosun came into the tournament as the No. 9-ranked team in the country. It was the fourth time in the past five years that the Blues have won bronze.
"I think what it boiled down to was that we had a little more grit and a little more rest," stated first-year head coach Dan Huzar about the win in the consolation final. "[Camosun] had some tough battles over the year, and our girls were rested; we made sure to maintain our bodies, and that really helped us. We lost the third, but we were OK with it; they were pushing through and they had a lot of confidence in themselves. We've been using the word 'belief' all weekend and believing in themselves all the way through, and that's what they needed."
Capilano stumbled mightily early in the season and were just 3-13 late in January. From there, however, they won five of their final eight regular season matches to make the playoffs, setting themselves up for a run to bronze.
Argyle Secondary grad Meghan Koven had a strong showing at the PacWest championships, earning a spot on the tournament all-star team. The fourth-year hitter/middle blocker scored 11 kills and nine digs in the bronze medal match. Second-year outside hitter Isabela Lima was named Player of the Match for Capilano in the consolation final, totalling 15 kills, 11 digs and two blocks in the match.
"Last year we lost in the bronze medal match, and I think that our team was very greedy this year," stated Lima in a Capilano release. "We had a long season, and I think that no one believed that we could do it, and we actually did it. It means a lot to me and the entire team. … We just kept it together in the huddle and said believe, stay calm, trust each other, and on every point try and be present because this would be the last time we'd play together with all these girls. So we just kept reminding ourselves that, and to live every moment and go hard for every ball."