Weekend preview: Cascades volleyballers wrap regular season vs. Bearcats, rugby sevens play in Victoria
After having their last competitions wiped out due to adverse weather, the University of the Fraser Valley volleyball and women’s rugby sevens squads are eager to get back at it this weekend.
The Cascades men’s and women’s volleyballers conclude the PACWEST regular season with a home-and-home set vs. their crosstown rivals, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, while the rugby sevens side finishes off the Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series with a tournament hosted by the Victoria Vikes.
MVB: Kleingeltink’s Senior Night highlights pivotal weekend for Cascades
Thursday: Cascades (15-7, 2nd in PACWEST) at CBC Bearcats (0-22, 7th in PACWEST), 8 p.m., Columbia Place
Saturday: Cascades vs. Bearcats, 7 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre
The Cascades volleyball teams had last weekend’s scheduled trip to Cranbrook to play the College of the Rockies Avalanche cancelled due to highway closures, and with just one week remaining in the regular season and no time to reschedule, they agreed to forfeit the games.
That officially ended the men’s volleyball team’s slim chances of catching the VIU Mariners for first in the PACWEST, but the No. 6-ranked team in the nation is still in very good shape to finish second in the conference and secure a first-round playoff bye. The Cascades have a one-game lead over the Camosun Chargers (14-8) with two games to go for both teams, and since UFV holds the head-to-head tiebreaker, one victory over CBC this week locks up second place.
“As difficult as it is that we had to give up those two (games vs. COTR), we can move forward knowing that a few other teams did us a favour making our road to secure second a little easier,” UFV bench boss Kyle Donen said, alluding to Capilano’s upset win over Camosun last Saturday. “But we still have to finish the two games off to get to where we need to be, and that’s our goal.
“We’re playing a team that has nothing to lose, and we know it’s never easy against CBC – it’s always a battle. We’re expecting that on Thursday.”
Players to watch: Saturday marks the last home game of Joel Kleingeltink’s distinguished five-year career with the Cascades. He’ll be celebrated in a pregame Senior Night ceremony as he puts the finishing touches on a banner campaign. The high-flying right side is leading PACWEST in total offence (3.99 points per set) and also ranks among the top 10 in kills, aces and blocks. Ben Smith has paced the Bearcats offensively this season – he ranks 10th in the league in total offence (3.20 points per set).
WVB: Cascades aim to boost playoff seeding
Thursday: Cascades (7-15, 6th in PACWEST) at CBC Bearcats (4-18, 7th in PACWEST), 6 p.m., Columbia Place
Saturday: Cascades vs. Bearcats, 5 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre
The Cascades women’s volleyballers also saw two losses appear on their ledger without playing a game last weekend, but fortunately, they had already clinched a post-season berth. They’d love to climb higher than sixth place, though, and they have a shot – they’re one game back of fifth-place Camosun (8-14) and own the head-to-head tiebreaker. The Chargers, meanwhile, have a tough season-ending series vs. the first-place VIU Mariners this weekend.
Rust could be an issue for the Cascades this weekend – the week prior to the cancelled COTR trip was a bye, so Thursday’s game at CBC will be their first game action in almost three weeks. But head coach Mike Gilray was pleased with what he’s seen from his charges in practice.
“We’ve practiced really well,” he said. “I thought the weekend off might have slowed it down, but we were right back at it. We had some minor injuries that got to rest up.
“This is the time of year you’ve got to be clicking. It’s all about peaking at the right time, and we have a couple great matches against a crosstown rival to get us ready for provincials.”
Players to watch: Saturday could be the home-court finale for Cascades standout middle Mandelyn Erikson – she’s in just her third year of eligibility, but has been at UFV for four years (including a redshirt season) and is set to graduate this year. Erikson ranks 22nd in the league in blocks (0.30 per set) and is fourth on the Cascades in total offence (1.92 points per set). Sophomore outside hitter Becky Garner will draw much of the Cascades’ defensive attention this week – she’s ninth in the league and tops on her team in total offence at 3.31 points per set.
WRUG7: Cascades continue to build
Saturday: Cascades vs. Calgary, 10 a.m.; Cascades vs. Lethbridge, 12:25 p.m.; Cascades vs. UBC, 2 p.m.
Sunday: Cascades vs. Alberta, 10:50 a.m.; Cascades vs. Victoria, 12:25 p.m.; placing games to follow starting at 2 p.m.
Wallace Field, University of Victoria
The Canada West Women’s Rugby Sevens Series saw its schedule trimmed significantly thanks to Mother Nature, as the second of three tournaments at UBC was wiped out due to heavy snowfall.
As such, the Cascades – among other teams – are raring to go this weekend in Victoria. UFV posted a sixth-place finish at the inaugural Canada West event hosted by the Alberta Pandas last month, and they’ll look to take further steps forward at UVic.
Head coach Jen Ross said her squad’s goals are to be competitive in every game and to boost their try count.
“The girls are eager to get on the field and play – there was so much excitement and buildup to getting this program underway,” Ross noted. “We all realize what we’re up against – we’re only traveling with 10 players because we’ve got a couple injuries still. But they’re not holding back, and they’re not shy about going and showing their stuff.”
Player to watch: Both of the Cascades’ tries at the first Canada West event were scored by Chelsea Fowler, and the B.C. U23 sevens team member will be looking to apply her skill and experience effectively once again at UVic.
PLAYOFF PREVIEW: Cascades basketball teams open Canada West post-season
The University of the Fraser Valley basketball teams begin their Canada West playoff journeys with best-of-three first-round series this weekend.
The Cascades women’s squad hosts the Calgary Dinos at the Envision Athletic Centre beginning Friday, while the men’s team takes on the Winnipeg Wesmen on the road starting Thursday.
WBB: Cascades renew hostilities with Dinos
Friday: Cascades (12-8, No. 8 seed in Canada West) vs. Calgary Dinos (11-9, No. 9 seed in Canada West), 6 p.m.
Saturday: Cascades vs. Dinos, 5 p.m.
*Sunday: Cascades vs. Dinos, 5 p.m. (if necessary)
Envision Athletic Centre
Radio: CIVL 101.7 FM, CIVL.ca
The Cascades have home-court advantage against a Dinos squad they split a two-game weekend set with in Calgary back in January. Both nights, the third quarter proved pivotal. The Dinos won the opener 69-59 on Jan. 12, breaking the game open by outscoring UFV 33-15 in the third. The Cascades bounced back the next night for a 69-60 triumph, with Sydney Williams sparking a 32-16 third-quarter surge for the visitors.
On paper, the series looks to be a defensive struggle. Both teams were in the middle of the pack offensively – Calgary scored 63.5 points per game in the regular season to rank 10th out of 17 teams in Canada West, while UFV was 11th at 62.7. And both were among the better defensive squads in the conference, the Cascades (62.4 points allowed per game) and Dinos (62.6 points allowed) ranking sixth and seventh, respectively.
But Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer believes both teams have the talent to light up the scoreboard.
“I look at Calgary as a team who can really dictate the pace of the game,” he analyzed. “If you don’t control that a bit, their offence can really get going and get away from you. They have some kids who can really attack the hoop off the dribble. I think some of their stats are deceptive in terms of what they can do offensively.
“We’re a team that takes pride in how we defend, and we’ve had times this year where we’ve been a very good defensive team. That’s going to have to show itself this weekend, for sure.”
Players to watch: This weekend will mark the final home games for Cascades fifth-year standout Kayli Sartori, who finished fifth in Canada West scoring this season at 16.4 points per game and was also among the conference leaders in assists, rebounding, steals and blocks. The hosts will need her to be at her versatile best against the Dinos. Keep an eye on Syd Williams, too – she knocked down seven three-pointers in UFV’s win in Calgary, and gave the squad a defensive spark to turn that game around. There’s also a neat local storyline to monitor, as rookies Jessica Zawada of the Cascades and Bobbi Jo Colburn of the Dinos face off. The two were teammates at Richmond’s R.A. McMath Secondary, helping the Wildcats to a silver medal at last season’s B.C. AAA high school provincials. Zawada has come on strong in the second half of the season as a key reserve for the Cascades, while Colburn (10.9 points per game) is Calgary’s second-leading scorer. Brianna Ghali (12.1 points per game) is Calgary’s offensive leader.
MBB: Cascades seek success on the road vs. Wesmen
Thursday: Cascades (11-9, No. 10 seed in Canada West) at Winnipeg Wesmen (12-8, No. 7 seed in Canada West), 7 p.m. CST / 5 p.m. PST
Friday: Cascades at Wesmen, 3 p.m. CST / 1 p.m. PST
*Saturday: Cascades at Wesmen, 3 p.m. CST / 1 p.m. PST (if necessary)
For the second straight year, the Cascades men’s hoopsters are off to the Manitoba capital to open the playoffs. Last year, they suffered a two-game sweep at the hands of the Manitoba Bisons; this year, the Winnipeg Wesmen are the foe.
The Cascades and Wesmen didn’t see one another in league play this season, nor the previous two. The last time the two teams met was in the 2015 preseason, UFV earning a 71-64 victory at the Wesmen’s Lea Marc Printing tournament.
This year’s edition of the Wesmen can put up points in a hurry – they’re an athletic squad which thrives in transition, and averaged 82.3 points per game during the regular season, fifth-best in Canada West. The Cascades (77.8 points per game) ranked 11th in the same metric.
“They’ve got a lot of team speed, they’re very aggressive on both ends of the floor, and if we allow them to get out in transition we’re going to make life really hard on ourselves,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen analyzed. “We’ve got to play aggressive ourselves, but be smart, avoid trying to play too much one-on-one, and really value making the simple play.”
UFV’s great equalizer is its outside shooting – the Cascades ranked second in Canada West in three-point percentage (38.0) and in triples made (199) and attempted (523). They’ve been playing some great team basketball of late – they’ve posted an 8-4 record since the Christmas break, and come in on a four-game win streak.
Players to watch: The Cascades’ offensive heartbeat is the fifth-year backcourt duo of Manny Dulay and Vijay Dhillon, whose combined 126 three-pointers are more than any other pair of teammates in the nation. If one or both of them can catch fire, look out. Dulay leads U Sports with 78 threes, and his 4.7 assists per game are second-most in Canada West. Andrew Morris’s play is a good barometer of the Cascades’ success – the small forward has scored in double figures nine times this season, and UFV is a perfect 9-0 in those games. He averages 8.4 points per game off the bench. The Wesmen’s leading scorer, third-year forward Sean Tarver (15.6 points per game, 43.9 per cent from beyond the arc), comes off the bench, and the hosts also get strong contributions from third-year point guard Denzel Lynch-Blair (15.3 points per game, 3.5 assists).