Weekend preview: Big road games for Cascades basketball, volleyball teams

The University of the Fraser Valley basketball and volleyball teams hit the road this weekend for a slate of games which, for all four teams, have massive playoff implications.

Shayna Cameron and the Cascades women's hoopsters face the UBCO Heat in a pair of crucial road clashes.

Shayna Cameron and the Cascades women’s hoopsters face the UBCO Heat in a pair of crucial road clashes.

WBB: Playoff hopes on the line vs. Heat

Cascades (7-7, 4th in Explorer Division) vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (10-4, 3rd in Explorer Division)

Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., UBC Okanagan Gymnasium (Kelowna)

Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv

Without question, this weekend’s clash in Kelowna represents the biggest games of the season for the UFV women’s basketball team.

The Cascades currently sit fourth in the Explorer Division, three games in arrears of UBC Okanagan for the division’s third and final playoff spot. Beat the Heat twice this weekend, and they’ll breathe new life into their playoff hopes – just a game back of UBCO with four games to play in the regular season, and owning the head-to-head tiebreaker. Lose both, and they’ll be officially eliminated from post-season contention. A split of the two-game set would keep them mathematically alive.

“For us, we don’t really control our final destiny here, so it’s about taking care of ‘process’ things – trying to put a solid game together on Friday, and worrying about Saturday when Saturday comes,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer analyzed. “We need to be really locked-in defensively and get back to building our game from that end of the floor.”

Season series: The Cascades and Heat last saw each other on the opening weekend of the Canada West regular season. UFV won its home opener 68-50 on Nov. 6, but UBCO clawed out a 63-59 victory the following evening.

“They’ve had a great season,” Tuchscherer said of the Heat. “They’re playing with a lot of confidence, and they’re an exceptional defensive team. They put a lot of pressure on the ball and force a lot of turnovers.”

Key Cascade: Kayli Sartori is in the midst of a phenomenal all-around season. The fourth-year guard/forward out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary leads Canada West in scoring at 19.0 points per game, to go with 7.4 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 1.6 blocks and 2.4 steals.

Key Heat: Third-year guard Claire Elliott is averaging 10.4 points per game, second-most on the Heat, along with 4.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists.

Kevon Parchment and the Cascades can ensure they'll finish no lower than second in the Explorer Division with a pair of weekend wins over UBCO.

Kevon Parchment and the Cascades can ensure they’ll finish no lower than second in the Explorer Division with a pair of weekend wins over UBCO.

MBB: Cascades aim to lock up second place

Cascades (9-5, 2nd in Explorer Division) vs. UBC Okanagan Heat (7-7, 3rd in Explorer Division)

Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m., UBC Okanagan Gymnasium (Kelowna)

Webcast (pay-per-view): ufv.canadawest.tv

The Cascades men’s hoopsters find themselves in a more comfortable playoff perch than their female counterparts – they’re second in the Explorer Division, two games up on UBCO.

The Heat, though, are within striking distance and could move into a tie with UFV with a pair of weekend wins. Conversely, if the Cascades sweep, they ensure that they’ll finish no lower than second.

“I think both teams will be feeling fresh, rested and prepared (coming off a bye week), and anxious to come out and play,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen noted.

Season series: The Cascades swept the Heat at the Envision Athletic Centre on opening weekend, winning 79-67 on Nov. 6 and 84-69 on Nov. 7.

“This is a big weekend, and we know it’s going to be a challenging one,” Friesen said. “They always give us a great challenge every time we play them.

Key Cascade: It’s been a breakout season for fourth-year combo guard Vijay Dhillon – the Richmond, B.C. product is second on the Cascades in scoring, averaging 16.3 points per game, and his 44 made three-pointers are second-most in Canada West. He hits 38.6 per cent of his attempts from downtown.

Key Heat: Aldrich Berrios, like Dhillon, is a high-volume three-point shooter. The sophomore guard swishes 2.9 treys per game (second in the conference only to Dhillon), and leads the Heat in points (16.0) and assists (2.9).

The UFV women's volleyball team takes on Capilano in a third-place showdown.

The UFV women’s volleyball team takes on Capilano in a third-place showdown.

WVB: Third place on the line as Cascades clash with Blues

Cascades (9-9, T3rd in the PacWest) at Capilano Blues (9-9, T3rd in the PacWest)

Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m. at Capilano Sportsplex (North Vancouver)

Webcast: sportscanada.tv/pacwest

Head coach Mike Gilray’s squad, riding a three-game win streak, finds itself tied for third place in the PacWest heading into this weekend’s clash with Capilano. The team they’re tied with? The Blues.

With the Douglas Royals (8-10) hot on the heels of both teams, playoff seeding is on the line this weekend.

“Winning those two games last weekend (vs. College of the Rockies) put us in a good spot in terms of playoffs,” noted Gilray, whose team is on the verge of officially clinching a post-season berth with six regular season games remaining. “We want to make sure we’re playing our best volleyball going into the playoffs. These last few weeks going into playoffs are going to be about looking at where teams are scoring on us and what we can do about that.”

Season series: The Cascades and Blues split a two-game set earlier this season – UFV prevailing in four sets on Nov. 27, and Cap bouncing back to win in three sets on Nov. 28.

“They’ve got weapons on both sides of the court, and in the middle,” Gilray said of the Blues. “Our blockers are going to be tested.”

Key Cascade: Sophomore left side Kelly Robertson was on fire last weekend against COTR. The Regina, Sask. product racked up 36 kills, three aces and 44 digs in the two-game sweep. She ranks 11th in the PacWest in kills (2.35 per set) and 15th in total offence (2.62 points per set).

Key Blue: Kira Sutcliffe is an offensive dynamo for Capilano – the fourth-year right side is second in the league in total offence, averaging 3.99 points per set.

Joel Kleingeltink and the Cascades men's volleyball team are looking to find some traction on the road.

Joel Kleingeltink and the Cascades men’s volleyball team are looking to find some traction on the road.

MVB: Cascades seeking to feel at home on the road

Cascades (10-8, 4th in the PacWest) at Capilano Blues (4-14, 6th in the PacWest)

Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m. at Capilano Sportsplex (North Vancouver)

Webcast: sportscanada.tv/pacwest

The Cascades have a very distinct home/road split this season – they’re 8-1 on the Abbotsford campus, but 2-7 away. They’ll look to burnish their road record against a Capilano team which is seeking to tighten its grip on the PacWest’s sixth and final playoff spot.

“I don’t think it’s that we’ve played really bad on the road – we’ve had a couple of bad losses, but we had a couple of games where we played well but it didn’t end in our favour,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “I feel good about the way our team is playing now.

“It’ll be a test for us (this weekend). Hopefully it’ll give us some confidence on the road if we can earn a couple wins.”

Season series: The Cascades are 2-0 against Cap this season – they won a five-set thriller on Nov. 28, and prevailed in four sets the next night.

Key Cascade: Fifth-year middle Connor Nickel is the reigning PacWest men’s volleyball athlete of the week. The graduate of Abbotsford’s Mennonite Educational Institute posted 12 kills and seven blocks last weekend in leading UFV to a sweep of COTR, and ranks 10th in the conference in blocks (0.53 per set).

Key Blue: Brendan Cairns has been the most prolific and productive attacker in the PacWest this season. The sophomore outside hitter is averaging a conference-best 5.13 points per set, and also leads the league in kills (4.56 per set).

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