Weekend preview: Basketball, volleyball teams at home for high-profile games, wrestlers at Canada West championships

Slider Jan8-16With eight home games on the schedule, in addition to the wrestling team competing at the Canada West championships in Winnipeg, it’s a huge weekend for the University of the Fraser Valley athletic department.

The Envision Athletic Centre and Student Activity Centre gymnasiums on the Abbotsford campus will be busy, with the Cascades’ basketball and volleyball teams in action on both Friday and Saturday. The games are being staged in conjunction with a series of exciting promotions – UFV Alumni Night and CIS Shoot for the Cure on Friday, and Senior Night festivities for fifth-year basketball players Kevon Parchment and Shayna Cameron on Saturday.

MBB: Cascades tangle with first-place WolfPack

Cascades (10-6, 2nd in Explorer Division) vs. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (14-2, 1st in Explorer Division)

Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre 

Webcast: ufv.canadawest.tv

The Cascades men’s hoopsters have a marquee match-up for their final home weekend of the regular season.

The Thompson Rivers WolfPack have built a four-game lead in the Explorer Division and are ranked No. 9 in the CIS, behind strong performances from forwards Josh Wolfram (19.5 points per game, 9.8 rebounds per game) and Volodymyr Iegorov (18.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and point guard Reese Pribilsky (14.0 ppg, 6.0 apg). Wolfram and Iegorov rank second and third, respectively, in Canada West scoring, while Pribilsky leads the conference in assists.

The Cascades, meanwhile, are on the verge of clinching a playoff berth, and with a pair of weekend wins, they can lock up second place in the Explorer Division.

“It’s an exciting weekend,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said. “It’ll be a fun test for us.

“They (Wolfram and Iegorov) have got to be considered one of the top frontcourts in Canada. We’re going to have to figure out a way to stop their frontcourt and control the rebounds.”

Season series: In the last games before the Christmas break for both teams, the WolfPack swept the Cascades in Kamloops. TRU prevailed 89-75 on Nov. 27 and 96-66 on Nov. 28.

Key Cascade: Kevon Parchment is having a season which should prompt consideration for a Canada West first team all-star nod. He’s among the conference leaders in scoring (17.2 ppg, ninth), rebounding (9.5, fifth), assists (5.2, second), blocks (1.4, seventh) and steals (1.7, 12th). Furthermore, this weekend represents the final regular-season home games of the fifth-year guard’s career. He’ll be honoured in a post-game Senior Night ceremony on Saturday.

Key WolfPack: Fifth-year forward Wolfram, who stands 6’10, was part of Canada’s men’s basketball entry at the World University Games in South Korea last summer.

WBB: Cascades look to stay hot vs. rival TRU

Cascades (9-7, 4th in Explorer Division) vs. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (13-3, T1st in Explorer Division)

Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., Envision Athletic Centre 

Webcast: ufv.canadawest.tv

The Cascades are coming off their most impressive weekend of the regular season. With their playoff lives on the line, they earned a pair of decisive road wins over the UBC Okanagan Heat – 65-50 on Friday, and 90-44 on Saturday.

Those results drew the Cascades back to within one game of UBCO (10-6) for the third and final Explorer Division playoff berth with four games remaining, so there’s still work to be done. Head coach Al Tuchscherer’s charges face a WolfPack squad which is red-hot in its own right, having won seven in a row.

“We’re playing really well right now,” Tuchscherer acknowledged, “but we have a couple things that are in the back of our minds. Number one, we’re still sitting outside of a playoff spot. And the second thing would be that Thompson Rivers really did a job on us up at their place before Christmas. There’s a lot of work for us to do still, against a really good team in our division.”

Season series: The WolfPack are 2-0 against the Cascades this season, with a 67-62 win on Nov. 27 and an 80-59 win on Nov. 28 in Kamloops.

Key Cascade: Fifth-year guard Shayna Cameron will have her career celebrated in a post-game Senior Night ceremony on Saturday. She’s the Cascades’ second-leading scorer at 13.0 points per game, and is coming off a strong 17-point outing (6-for-8 from the field, 3-for-5 from beyond the arc) in last Saturday’s win over UBCO.

Key WolfPack: Kassie Colonna, TRU’s outstanding 6’2” fourth-year centre, is the epitome of consistency – she’s scored in double figures in 14 of her team’s 16 conference games this season. She leads the WolfPack in scoring at 14.3 points per game.

MVB: Cascades take a crack at national championship host Douglas

Cascades (12-8, T3rd in PacWest) vs. Douglas Royals (16-4, 2nd in PacWest)

Friday 8 p.m., Saturday 7 p.m., Student Activity Centre

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Royals may be ranked No. 5 in the nation, but they always seem to bring out the best in the Cascades. UFV’s signature win last season was an epic five-set victory at home over a Douglas squad ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time.

This year, the Royals have already punched their ticket to the CCAA national championship, by virtue of the fact that they’re hosting the event. So if the Cascades are to make a deep playoff run, it’s a virtual certainty that they’ll come across Douglas at some point.

“We want to feel good about playing them heading into provincials and into nationals,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said, articulating his team’s goals for this weekend. “We want to be as used to them as we can and learn as much as we can about them.”

Season series: The Royals swept the Cascades in New Westminster on Oct. 23 and Oct. 24. But UFV was without standout right side Joel Kleingeltink for both matches due to injury, and the Cascades still managed to push Douglas to five sets the first night.

Key Cascade: Kleingeltink ranks third in the PacWest in both total offence (4.22 points per set) and kills (3.24 per set), leading the Cascades in both categories.

Key Royal: The Royals boast a balanced attack, with three players ranked in the top 15 in the PacWest in total offence. Third-year outside hitter George Thompson leads the way with 3.33 points per set.

WVB: Potential playoff preview for Cascades

Cascades (9-11, 5th in PacWest) vs. Douglas Royals (10-10, 4th in PacWest)

Friday 6 p.m., Saturday 5 p.m., Student Activity Centre

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

If the PacWest playoffs started today, the Cascades and the CCAA No. 11-ranked Royals would square off in the quarter-finals, a factor which adds intrigue to the penultimate weekend of the regular season.

Also spicing up the rivalry are the family connections between UFV and Douglas. Cascades left side Rachel Funk will look across the net at her sister Jessica, a setter. Additionally, Douglas libero Claudia Corneil’s sister Tristan stars for the UFV soccer team.

The Cascades are coming off a pair of road losses to the Capilano Blues in which they struggled with their passing. Head coach Mike Gilray said confidence is crucial for his squad to rebound in that department.

“The girls need to believe in the work that they’ve done, and not let a small sample size determine whether or not they feel good about their passing,” he noted.

“With two weeks left, our focus is preparing for the playoffs. The girls know where they are in the standings, and that there’s a good chance we’ll see them (Douglas) in the first round.”

Season series: The Royals swept the Cascades in New West in the first semester, winning in three sets on Oct. 23 and four sets on Oct. 24.

Key Cascade: Rachel Funk missed last weekend’s series vs. Cap due to illness, and her return gives the Cascades a more balanced attack. The sophomore ranks 12th in the PacWest in kills with 2.26 per set.

Key Royal: Ex-Cascade Juliana Penner has been a consistent source of offence for the Royals – she averages 3.33 points per set, fourth-most in the PacWest.

WRES: Purewal, Dhaliwal chase conference medals

Canada West Wrestling Championships

Duckworth Centre, University of Winnipeg, Feb. 12-13

Webcast: canadawest.tv

Devin Purewal, a Canada West silver medalist in the 72 kg men’s weight class in 2015, will be joined by rookie Pravi Dhaliwal (women’s 59 kg) at the conference championship tournament in Winnipeg. Medalists advance to the CIS national championships, Feb. 26-27 at Brock University in St. Catharine’s, Ont.

“I’m excited for them,” said Arjan Bhullar, who co-coaches the Cascades with Raj Virdi. “Devin’s been here before and he’s competed well, so we’re looking to build on his past experiences. His weight class is one of the toughest in the country, though, so it’s not going to be an easy task. We’ll take it one match at a time with him, and build throughout the day and get momentum going.

“As far as Pravi, Raj and I both agree she’s improved a great deal from the start of the year to now. It’s a big jump from high school to university, but she’s done a great job with her training, and she’s been a sponge. She’s totally committed, and she’s had some good results.”

For a complete preview of the Canada West championships, visit canadawest.org.

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The University of the Fraser Valley is situated on the unceded traditional territory of the Stó:lō peoples. The Stó:lō have an intrinsic relationship with what they refer to as S’olh Temexw (Our Sacred Land); therefore, we express our gratitude and respect for the honour of living and working in this territory.

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