It’s an exciting weekend for the University of the Fraser Valley athletic department – the Cascades basketball and volleyball teams are set to host important conference games, while the wrestling program heads to a stateside tournament.
The UFV hoopsters take on the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday and Saturday at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, while the volleyball squads have a Saturday/Sunday set vs. the College of the Rockies Avalanche.
Sunday’s volleyball games have been moved off the UFV Abbotsford campus to Abbotsford Senior Secondary, to allow the gymnasium to accommodate events associated with the funeral of Abbotsford Police Const. John Davidson. The EFAC will serve as a muster point for police officers prior to the funeral, which will be held at Abbotsford Centre, and then as an overflow seating area carrying a simulcast of the ceremony.
Friday’s basketball doubleheaders will feature a championship banner unveiling for the Cascades golf program, celebrating the UFV men’s and women’s team’s for both winning CCAA national titles last month. The on-court ceremony will take place prior to tip-off of the men’s game.
WBB: Cascades aim to slow national scoring leader Miller
Friday, Nov. 17: Cascades (2-4, T-11th in Canada West) vs. Winnipeg Wesmen (2-4, T-11th in Canada West), 6 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18: Cascades vs. Wesmen, 5 p.m.
Envision Financial Athletic Centre
The Cascades women’s basketball team faces a tough defensive test this weekend, as the Winnipeg Wesmen come to town. The Wesmen boast the most prolific scorer in the nation – fourth-year guard Antoinette Miller. The reigning Canada West player of the year from Phoenix, Ariz. is averaging a U SPORTS-leading 25.3 points per game.
“She’s one of the premier players in our conference, and not too many teams have had a lot of luck containing her,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “It’s going to have to be a team effort, for sure. I think most importantly, it’s about how you defend her supporting cast.”
The Cascades are coming off a solid performance on the road last Saturday, taking the U SPORTS No. 1-ranked Regina Cougars down to the wire before falling 68-60.
“I feel like we’re really making strides in our game right now,” Tuchscherer said. “Kind of the problem for us is, we’re one game behind. We lose, we learn lessons, and we improve. We’ve got to hopefully get out in front of these games and earn some Ws. I like the path that we’re on, and the determination that we’re playing with.”
Players to watch: Fifth-year guard Sara Simovic was a standout for the Cascades last weekend vs. Regina, leading the team in scoring both nights. She’s averaging 12.5 points per game while hitting 40 per cent from beyond the arc. The aforementioned Antoinette Miller isn’t just a scoring machine – she also leads the Wesmen in rebounds (10.0 per game), assists (3.3) and steals (2.3).
MBB: Cascades, Wesmen clash in playoff rematch
Friday, Nov. 17: Cascades (1-5, T-14th in Canada West) vs. Winnipeg Wesmen (1-5, T-14th in Canada West), 8 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 18: Cascades vs. Wesmen, 7 p.m.
Envision Financial Athletic Centre
On the men’s side, this weekend’s set between the Cascades and Wesmen marks a rematch of last spring’s Canada West first-round playoff series. The host Wesmen won that best-of-three series in three games.
The potential emotional significance of the rematch, according to UFV head coach Adam Friesen, is limited due to the fact that the Cascades have had so much roster turnover since then.
“We have a lot of new faces at this stage, and we’re looking for every opportunity to get out there and play, and get back in the win column,” he said.
“The main thing for us is to develop the type of attitude it takes to compete in the league. X’s and O’s and things of that nature can take a back seat. It’s the intensity, the passion and the grittiness to compete on the defensive end and be disciplined throughout a game.”
Players to watch: After missing the bulk of the preseason due to injury, Cascades fourth-year guard/forward Andrew Morris is rounding back into form. The Burnaby, B.C. product is a key offensive contributor and veteran leader for the Cascades, and in 2016-17, his production was a good barometer of the team’s success – the Cascades were 9-0 in the regular season when he scored in double digits. For the Wesmen, sophomore guard Narcisse Ambanza is the offensive catalyst. A Canada West all-rookie selection last year, he’s averaging a team-high 17.3 points per game this season.
WVB: Avalanche pose another tough test for Cascades
Saturday, Nov. 18: Cascades (5-3, 3rd in PACWEST, No. 7 in CCAA national rankings) vs. College of the Rockies Avalanche (4-4, 4th in PACWEST, No. 11 in CCAA), 1 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre
Sunday, Nov. 19: Cascades vs. Avalanche, 11 a.m., Abbotsford Senior Secondary
The Cascades dropped both of their games last weekend to the Douglas Royals, but in light of the fact that Douglas is ranked No. 3 in the nation, the UFV squad maintained its place at No. 7 in the CCAA national rankings for the third straight week.
They’re hosting a College of the Rockies squad which is nipping at their heels in the PACWEST standings, and which picked up a huge win last Friday over the No. 2-ranked VIU Mariners.
“In our league, there’s no weekends off – this is a very strong team coming in here,” Cascades head coach Mike Gilray noted. “We’re not going to have an undefeated team at the top of our league because we have such strength.
“It’s an opportunity again for us to play well. We’re going to take these situations as opportunities to learn, and we’re going to get better as a team.”
Players to watch: Among the Cascades’ ascendant youngsters is sophomore middle Hanna Hieltjes. The New Westminster, B.C. product ranks fourth on the team in blocks (0.30/set) and chips in offensively with 1.63 kills/set. On the Avalanche side of the net, there are some interesting local connections. Rookie outside hitter Ashley Huberts is an Abbotsford product who played her high school volleyball alongside current Cascades Karissa Marazzi and Lexi Edwards at Mennonite Educational Institute. Fellow COTR rookie Taylor Whittall is the sister of Cascades men’s volleyball player Matt Whittall.
MVB: Cascades seek standings separation vs. Avalanche
Saturday, Nov. 18: Cascades (3-5, T-4th in PACWEST) vs. College of the Rockies Avalanche (3-5, T-4th in PACWEST), 3 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre
Sunday, Nov. 19: Cascades vs. Avalanche, 1 p.m., Abbotsford Senior Secondary
The Cascades and Avalanche enter the week with matching 3-5 records, and while COTR will have played Thursday/Friday games at Columbia Bible College by the time they face UFV, this weekend’s games will be influential in determining playoff seeding.
The Cascades have split each of their last two weekends vs. Douglas and Camosun, both times losing on Friday before bouncing back to win Saturday.
“I’d like to see us put together two complete games,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “We need to make our overall game a smarter one. If we can do that, I think we have the pieces to be very successful. It’s just a matter of having that consistency to go along with it.”
Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year Dayton Pagliericci has been the Cascades’ chief offensive threat in the middle, averaging 1.22 kills per set, and he had a breakout performance last Friday vs. Douglas with a season-high 12 kills. For the Avalanche, sophomore outside hitter Matt Cespedes has been a prolific offensive contributor – he’s averaged 2.15 kills and 2.78 points of total offence per set this season, ranking 11th and 13th, respectively, in the PACWEST.
WRES: No. 3-ranked Cascades off to Spokane Open
Saturday, Nov. 18: Cascades at Spokane (Wash.) Open, Spokane Convention Centre
The Cascades wrestling program heads south of the border this weekend for the Spokane Open, an elite tournament which will see a number of NCAA Div. I teams convene at the Spokane Convention Centre.
The men’s team carries with them an impressive accolade – they’re No. 3 in the latest batch of U SPORTS national rankings released Tuesday. The Cascades moved up two spots after opening at No. 5 last week, and it’s the highest they’ve been ranked since holding the No. 1 spot for three weeks in January/February 2015.
“It’s exciting to see that we’re ranked that high,” Cascades head coach Raj Virdi enthused. “Even though our team is so young, we’ve been working hard and people have been seeing our results over the last couple tournaments. It’s good for the group, and it builds their motivation and unity when they see something like that.”
Athletes to watch: The Cascades are taking four male wrestlers to Spokane, led by 2017 U SPORTS heavyweight champ Brad Hildenbrandt, and reigning Canada West rookie of the year Karla Godinez Gonzalez leads a five-member UFV women’s contingent.