NANAIMO — It's been just over a month since the start of the PACWEST volleyball season, and this weekend will feature the final matches of the first semester.
For the VIU women's team it's been business as usual.
They have an 8-2 record, which is second in the PACWEST, and they're ranked third in the country.
Last weekend was a massive showdown against Douglas College, the second ranked team in the CCAA, and the only team with a better record than the Mariners so far.
Mariners coach Shane Hyde says Douglas took the match on Friday while VIU earned a win on Saturday.
"Friday night I was definitely not pleased with the performance we put out there knowing that it was number two and number three, and that first place was on the line," said Hyde.
Hyde conceded that a split was probably what should have been expected between two powerhouse clubs.
So far this season VIU has only been at home for one weekend and that's meant lots of time for team building on the road.
Hyde says a 13 hour trip to Cranbrook just a couple of weeks ago was good for that.
The final matches against the University of the Fraser Valley will be played at the VIU gym Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 1 p.m.
UFV is just behind the Mariners in the standings with a record of 7-3.
Hyde calls the Cascades a skilled team that is very well coached.
The PACWEST schedule has a large hole in December and after this weekend the Mariners won't have a regular season match until January 12.
Hyde says his teams are always good in the second half and he wants to give his players lots of time to concentrate on their final exams and spending time with their families over the break.
"I want them to take a break from their sport once we finish this upcoming weekend," said Hyde. "We'll do a few team building exercises, we'll do a Christmas dinner and stuff like that, and we'll have some fun practices probably."
A VIU volleyball tradition is a trip after Christmas that includes some exhibition matches.
This year it's in San Diego with eight high level teams, including some from under the U Sports banner.
That trip will begin on December 27 and include a lot of time on the court and a few days to enjoy some vacationing.
The Mariners will be looking for a fourth provincial gold medal in five years and a fifth straight trip to the CCAA nationals.
Their first half results have put them in line for those goals to be realized.
The VIU men will also wrap up the first half of their season this weekend.
They sit in second place in the PACWEST standings at 9-1, and like the women are ranked third in the country.
The men's final first half matches against UFV are slated for 8 p.m. on Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday in Nanaimo.
On twitter: @danmarshall77
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