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

Joel Kleingeltink (13) will be playing his last home game with the Cascades on Saturday.

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

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

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

The Cascades’ Mandelyn Erikson (serving) is set to graduate this year.

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

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

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.

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