The Columbia Bible College volleyball programs are gearing up for a high-profile homecourt showdown with the highly ranked Vancouver Island University Mariners this weekend.
The Nanaimo teams come into Abbotsford boasting a pair of lofty rankings – the Mariners women are ranked No. 1 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) rankings, while the VIU men are No. 2.
Both Bearcats squads have also earned mentions in the national rankings, albeit further down – the CBC men, the defending national champions, check in at No. 11, while the women are No. 15.
Games run Friday (women 6 p.m., men 7:45 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 2:45 p.m.) at Columbia Place, and Rocky Olfert, CBC men’s volleyball coach and athletic director, said the timing of the Mariners’ visit couldn’t be better.
“It’s a really good measuring stick for us as we go into provincials, and three weeks before nationals,” he noted. “It’s certainly a good challenge for us.”
For the Bearcats men, there’s nothing tangible on the line this weekend – as the regular season winds down, they’re locked into the No. 3 seed heading into the PacWest conference playoffs. They’re already assured of a berth to CCAA nationals, by virtue of the fact they’ll be hosting the event March 8-10.
But Olfert is looking forward to the opportunity to fine-tune his team’s systems against the Mariners, in preparation for a more pressure-packed match-up down the road.
“Obviously we want to do the best we can, but it’s a chance to work with a few different lineups and systems on offence, and see how that goes,” said Olfert, whose team is 13-7 in league play. “Should we meet them again, maybe it’ll favour us.”
The Bearcats women are fourth place in the PacWest at 11-8, but they’ve been on fire since Christmas, boasting a 7-1 record in the second half.
PACWEST WEEKEND IN REVIEW
• Both CBC volleyball teams are coming off weekend sweeps of the College of the Rockies Avalanche in Cranbrook. All four wins came in four sets.
• In basketball action, the Bearcats hoops teams combined to drop four home games on the weekend. The CBC men (1-12) fell 104-81 to the Langara Falcons on Friday and 102-81 to the Kwantlen Eagles on Saturday. The women (0-13) lost 66-38 to Langara and 83-43 to Kwantlen.
• The University of the Fraser Valley volleyball teams, coming off a bye, take the ferry to Victoria to play the Camosun Chargers this weekend.