The University of the Fraser Valley athletic department rings in 2017 with an entertaining slate of games this weekend, highlighted by basketball home games at the Envision Athletic Centre.
The Cascades hoopsters host the MacEwan Griffins on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) in Canada West conference action. The UFV wrestling program, meanwhile, travels to Edmonton for the Alberta Golden Bear Invitational, and the volleyball squads hit the road to face the Douglas Royals in New Westminster.
The basketball home games feature a pair of noteworthy initiatives. Friday is the Cascades’ first annual Hall of Fame game night. Builders Pat Lee and Jane Antil, women’s basketball athletes Carolyne Lucy and Tracy MacLeod, and the 1987-88 men’s basketball team comprise the inaugural Cascades Hall of Fame class, and they’ll be celebrated in an on-court ceremony between games. Click here for more information on the Cascades Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
The Bell Let’s Talk initiative for mental health takes centre stage on Saturday. The Cascades are among 53 university athletic departments from coast to coast who have joined the Bell Let’s Talk initiative to end the stigma around mental illness. There will be 100 varsity games taking place across the country to increase awareness for mental health leading up to Bell Let’s Talk Day on Wednesday, Jan. 25. For more information, visit letstalk.bell.ca.
MBB: Cascades look for strong second-semester start vs. Griffins
Friday: Cascades (3-5, 12th in Canada West) vs. MacEwan Griffins (3-7, T-13th in Canada West), 8 p.m. PST
Saturday: Cascades vs. Griffins, 7 p.m.
Envision Athletic Centre
The Cascades and Griffins both come in perched squarely on the playoff bubble, albeit on opposite sides. UFV currently holds down the 12th and final Canada West post-season spot, while MacEwan is tied for 13th. It may only be midseason, but this weekend will be pivotal to both teams’ playoff aspirations.
“Every game this semester is going to be big for us,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen noted. “MacEwan’s a talented team, and we’ve had some really good battles the last couple years. We’re prepared for a tough weekend ahead of us.”
Players to watch: Cascades senior point guard Manny Dulay is in the midst of a fantastic fifth year – he’s leading the conference in assists (5.8 per game) and three-pointers made per game (3.4), and he’s fourth in steals (2.4) and 13th in scoring (15.8). The Griffins counter with a standout point guard of their own in fourth-year Thadius Galvez, who ranks fourth in the conference in scoring (18.9).
WBB: Cascades aim to solve rival MacEwan
Friday: Cascades (5-3, 7th in Canada West) vs. MacEwan Griffins (4-6, 10th in Canada West), 6 p.m. PST
Saturday: Cascades vs. Griffins, 5 p.m.
Envision Athletic Centre
The Griffins have had the Cascades’ number over the previous two seasons, winning seven of eight games head-to-head, and head coach Al Tuchscherer’s squad will be looking to reverse that trend this weekend and boost their playoff chances in the process.
“They’re a well-coached, veteran team, and they’ve been a real tough challenge for us the last couple years,” Tuchscherer observed. “For us, it’ll be interesting to see how we respond coming off a December break. It’s the first time in several years that we haven’t been in a Christmas tournament, so we’ll have to be ready to go on Friday.”
Players to watch: The last time the Cascades played, back on Dec. 3, Kayli Sartori dominated the final minute of regulation (and a good portion of the rest of the game, too) to spark her squad to a critical 68-66 road win over the Brandon Bobcats. The fifth-year guard/forward is among the best players in the conference, ranking among the leaders in scoring (18.9 points per game, third), rebounds (7.5, 14th), assists (3.3, sixth), blocks (1.0, ninth) and steals (3.6, second). The Griffins boast one of the top floor generals in the nation in fellow fifth-year Kendall Lydon – she’s third in Canada West in both assists (3.7) and steals (3.2), and 12th in scoring (14.9).
WRES: Cascades hit the mats in Edmonton
Saturday: Cascades at Alberta Golden Bear Invitational, 10 a.m. start
University of Alberta Main Gymnasium
The Cascades wrestlers visit the University of Alberta this weekend for their second Canada West event of the season.
UFV co-head coach Raj Virdi noted that there’s an additional layer of intrigue this weekend, as teams tend to finalize their rosters after Christmas and athletes sort out which weight class they’ll compete as the conference and national championships approach.
“In each weight class, you start feeling each other out,” Virdi said. “It’ll be a bit challenging this weekend, and we’ll be matching up against everyone we’ll be competing against at nationals.”
Athletes to watch: The Cascades’ lone first-semester foray into Canada West competition was in late October at the Dinos Invitational at the University of Calgary. Three UFV wrestlers – Brad Hildenbrandt (silver, men’s 120 kg), Ashley Coupal (silver, women’s 48 kg) and Amtoj Dhaliwal (bronze, men’s 82 kg) – climbed the podium at that tournament, and they’ll be looking to build on that this weekend.
MVB: Cascades want to feel at home on the road
Friday: Cascades (9-3, 2nd in PACWEST) at Douglas Royals (5-7, 5th in PACWEST), 8 p.m. PST
Saturday: Cascades at Royals, 7 p.m.
Over the past two and a half seasons, the UFV men’s volleyball team has posted sharply divergent results at home vs. on the road. They’ve won 68.8 per cent of their games (22-10) at the Envision Athletic Centre, but just 28.6 per cent (8-20) away from the friendly confines.
Those stats are particularly relevant heading into the second semester, as eight of the Cascades’ 12 games are on the road. This weekend’s clash with Douglas provides an intriguing test, as UFV handled the Royals in three straight sets on back-to-back nights in Abbotsford in mid-November.
“Yes, we’re traveling, but the most important thing is that we want to start the second semester off right,” said UFV head coach Kyle Donen, whose team is ranked No. 8 in the nation. “We played well the last time against Douglas, and we’re hoping to reignite the energy we had in our gym. But I do expect them to be better in their gym . . . I’ve seen them play at home, and they’re a better team there.”
Players to watch: The Cascades’ Joel Kleingeltink has been one of the PACWEST’s brightest stars this season, ranking among the league leaders in total offence (4.10 points/set, third), aces (0.43/set, fifth), blocks (0.70/set, fourth) and kills (2.98/set, fifth). The Royals counter with sophomore outside hitter Devon Dunn, who sits just behind Kleingeltink in fourth place in total offence (3.62 points/set).
WVB: Cascades hope to build momentum in second half
Friday: Cascades (4-8, 5th in PACWEST) at Douglas Royals (9-3, 2nd in PACWEST), 6 p.m. PST
Saturday: Cascades at Royals, 5 p.m.
The Cascades’ showing against Douglas at home in November was a microcosm of their season to date. Head coach Mike Gilray’s charges showed they could compete with a nationally ranked foe, building leads in both matches. Douglas, though, rallied to win both, and those results helped them ascend to their current lofty position – No. 6 in the CCAA national rankings.
“We’re excited to get back into league play against Douglas, because we played really well in those games but just didn’t finish games off,” Gilray said. “They had a great first semester and they’ll be brimming with confidence, but we’ve progressed since the last time we played them.”
Players to watch: Cascades third-year setter Jessica Funk transferred to UFV from Douglas last summer, and she’ll be facing her former teammates in her old gym this weekend. In addition to steering the UFV offence, Funk is one of the PACWEST’s most dangerous servers – she’s second in the conference in aces (0.50/set), trailing only teammate Monique Huber (0.57). On the other side of the net is ex-Cascade Juliana Penner, who leads the Royals and ranks third in PACWEST in total offence (3.91 points/set).