Weekend preview: Basketball, wrestling, volleyball all competing at home

The Envision Athletic Centre will be buzzing this weekend, as the Cascades basketball, wrestling and volleyball teams are all in action at home.

The Cascades basketball squads take on their Canada West rivals, the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, while the wrestling program holds its annual Cascades Classic tournament. The volleyball teams are hosting their most exciting home games of the season – their opponents, the Vancouver Island University Mariners, are ranked No. 1 in the nation on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Friday’s games will also feature a pair of exciting initiatives: UFV Alumni Night and Shoot for the Cure. UFV alumni will receive a game admission, a slice of pizza, pop and a bag of popcorn all for $7, and the first 50 to RSVP with the UFV Alumni Association will get that ticket package for free. RSVP here.

Shoot for the Cure is a fundraising initiative for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and other related charities which involves all 47 U Sports women’s basketball programs and has generated over $1 million for the cause since 2007. The Cascades women’s squad has been participating since its inception, and raise in the neighbourhood of $4,000 each year, including $4,600 in 2016. Pink Cascades/Shoot for the Cure T-shirts will be available by donation on Friday.

MBB: Cascades, WolfPack jockeying for playoff position

Andrew Morris and the Cascades look to bolster their playoff hopes at the expense of the TRU WolfPack.

Friday: Cascades (6-8, T-11th in Canada West) vs. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (7-7, T-8th in Canada West), 8 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades vs. WolfPack, 7 p.m.

Envision Athletic Centre South Gym

Webcast: ufv.canadawest.tv

Radio: CIVL 101.7 FM, CIVL.ca

If the Canada West playoffs started today, both the Cascades and and WolfPack would be among the 12 to qualify. Both teams still have work to do down the stretch, though, beginning with a head-to-head clash this weekend.

The Cascades have played their best basketball since Christmas, highlighted by a 73-71 road win last Friday over the Alberta Golden Bears, ranked No. 6 in the nation at the time. The WolfPack are playing their first road games of 2017, having split their past two weekends at home vs. Victoria and Winnipeg.

“We know they’re going to be hard-nosed, they’re going to be tough inside, and they’re going to be throwing a bunch of different defences at us to try to throw us off,” UFV bench boss Adam Friesen said. “Volodymyr Iegorov is one of the best players in our league, if not the country, so we’ve got our hands full with him.”

Players to watch: Cascades fifth-year point guard Manny Dulay is coming off a sensational weekend vs. Alberta which saw him swish 13 three-pointers over the two-game set, en route to Canada West male third star of the week honours. He’s quickly climbing the conference’s all-time three-pointers list, currently sitting fifth with 219 in his career and closing in on Danny Balderson (Lethbridge Pronghorns, 1993-95, 1997-00) and Casey Archibald (UBC Thunderbirds, 2002-07) who are tied for third at 239. Iegorov, the WolfPack’s 6’7” fifth-year power forward from the Ukraine, ranks sixth in Canada West scoring (18.7 points per game) and fourth in rebounding (9.0 rpg).

WBB: Cascades clash with longtime rivals

Taylor Claggett sits second in Canada West in shooting percentage heading into the weekend.

Friday: Cascades (8-6, T-8th in Canada West) vs. Thompson Rivers WolfPack (2-12, T-15th in Canada West), 6 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades vs. WolfPack, 5 p.m.

Envision Athletic Centre South Gym

Webcast: ufv.canadawest.tv

Radio: CIVL 101.7 FM, CIVL.ca

The WolfPack come in on a six-game losing streak, but Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer knows better than to take TRU lightly no matter where they sit in the standings. These two teams have been rivals for years so there’s no shortage of motivation on either side.

“With the schedule being unbalanced for every team, they’ve had a pretty tough schedule to this point of the season,” Tuchscherer noted. “They’ve lost a number of close games, so we’re in no way taking this team lightly. They’re well-coached, and we’ve had some great games over the last four or five years. It’s always a battle playing them.”

Friday’s Shoot for the Cure is the Cascades’ signature charity fundraiser each year.

“I’m really proud of the girls for the hard work they’ve undertaken to organize our Shoot for the Cure,” Tuchscherer said. “They really take a lot of pride in contributing to this nation-wide initiative.”

Players to watch: All-Canadian Kayli Sartori shook a mini-slump last weekend, registering 17 and 23 points on back-to-back night vs. the Alberta Pandas. She’s tied for fourth in the conference in scoring (17.8 points per game) and also sits top-five in blocks (1.2, T-fourth) and steals (3.1, fourth). The WolfPack’s top scorer is point guard Emma Piggin, who averages 11.3 points per game.

WRES: Cascades Classic set for Sunday

Pravi Dhaliwal (left) and the Cascades will be competing in front of their home fans this weekend.

Sunday: Cascades Classic wrestling tournament, 9 a.m. start

Envision Athletic Centre North Gym

The UFV wrestlers hit the mats for their third annual Canada West home tourney on Sunday. It’s the last Canada West event of the season, with the conference championships slated for Feb. 10-11 in Saskatoon.

About 100 competitors are expected from the other five Canada West programs – Alberta, Calgary, Saskatchewan, Regina and Winnipeg – along with NCAA Div. 2 squads Simon Fraser and Western Washington.

“It’s awesome when you can put on a show for the community at home here,” said Arjan Bhullar, who co-coaches the Cascades with Raj Virdi. “The kids are excited – they’ve got family and friends coming out, and as an athlete, that’s when you want to perform and have success. . . . For different athletes, it means different things. For some people, it means first place; for others, it’s filling in certain holes technically that we’ve addressed so they’re ready for Canada West (championships) when it really matters.”

Wrestlers to watch: The Cascades men’s team has been led by Brad Hildenbrandt (120 kg) and Amtoj Dhaliwal (82 kg) this season – they’re both coming off gold medals at the Golden Bears Invitational in Edmonton earlier this month. Fast-improving rookie Karla Godinez Gonzalez was the lone UFV medalist on the women’s side at that tourney – she took bronze at 51 kg.

MVB: Top-10 teams on collision course

Adam Fredrickson and Connor Pruim are among the toughest blockers in PACWEST.

Friday: Cascades (14-4, 2nd in PACWEST) vs. Vancouver Island University Mariners (15-1, 1st in PACWEST), 8 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades vs. Mariners, 3 p.m.

Envision Athletic Centre North Gym

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The top two teams in the PACWEST lock horns in Abbotsford this weekend, and the Mariners come in with the coveted No. 1 national ranking and the accompanying target on their back. The CCAA No. 8-ranked Cascades saw a six-game win streak snapped last Saturday vs. Camosun, and they’re eager to get back in the win column against VIU.

The two teams played a pair of games in Nanaimo in late October, with the Mariners winning both.

“We have some extra motivation coming off of a loss, and knowing we get them at home, I think we’ve had this game marked on our calendar since we played them in Week 3,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “We’re excited for this challenge, and we want to show the nation we’re a top-10 team. It’s a weekend we’re ready for.”

Players to watch: Cascades sophomore middle Connor Pruim is coming off a tremendous weekend vs. Camosun – the 6’5” middle from Langley, B.C. racked up team-high totals of 12 kills and five blocks in a five-set win on Friday, and followed up with eight kills and a team-best four blocks in Saturday’s four-set loss. He currently sits second in the PACWEST in blocks (0.87/set), one of four Cascades in the top 10 (Joel Kleingeltink, Adam Frederickson and Dayton Pagliericci are the others). The only player tougher at the net than Pruim this season is VIU’s fifth-year 6’5” middle Wayne Woyciehouski, who is averaging an eye-popping 1.06 blocks per set.

WVB: Ascendant Cascades to be tested by top-ranked Mariners

Rachel Funk (7) and the Cascades clash with the defending national champs this weekend.

Friday: Cascades (7-11, 5th in PACWEST) vs. Vancouver Island University Mariners (13-3, 1st in PACWEST), 6 p.m.

Saturday: Cascades vs. Mariners, 1 p.m.

Envision Athletic Centre North Gym

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Cascades appear to be peaking at the right time – they’re coming off their first two-game weekend sweep of the season vs. Camosun. But their momentum will be severely tested by the Mariners, the reigning national champs who have the No. 1 ranking again this season.

According to Cascades head coach Mike Gilray, VIU’s balance is what makes them tough. Right side Mikayla Wagner and left side Megan Rosenlund put opposing blockers in a pick-your-poison situation.

“I thought we played well in the fall against them – we were trying different lineups at the time,” Gilray said, alluding to his team’s five-set defeat in Nanaimo on Oct. 28. “I’d like to see lots of energy this weekend. We’re definitely playing through some injuries, but so is every team. . . . We get to see how we match up with the No. 1 team in the nation.”

Players to watch: Cascades setter Jessica Funk is the reigning PACWEST women’s volleyball athlete of the week after racking up 92 assists in two games against Camosun. Across the net, the Mariners boast the most productive offensive player in the league in White Rock product Wagner, who leads PACWEST in total offence (4.16 points/set).

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