This may be the wrong way of going about things, but I was hoping there is some hope. Our afs configuration has completely gone haywire, but the volumes within the /vicepa partition are still present. Is there any way to restore these .vol files to something readable without having to use an existing AFS system?
There is indeed a way to do this; it's not the "wrong way" of doing things, and isn't even that uncommon.
You can use voldump(8) to generate a "vos dump"-style volume dump directly from /vicepa contents, without going through the volserver. Once you have that, you can get the actual files back using restorevol(1). Or you could restore the volume to another AFS fileserver using "vos restore" (manpage "vos_restore(1)").
There is also a tool called afsdump_extract that can be used instead of restorevol. But restorevol is usually easier to find; restorevol is part of OpenAFS, and afsdump_extra is part of "dumpscan".