VOLLEYBALL WEEKEND PREVIEW: Cascades, Bearcats clash in home-and-home set

The University of the Fraser Valley volleyball teams wrap up the regular season this weekend, taking on their crosstown rivals from Columbia Bible College in a home-and-home series.

UFV’s Envision Financial Athletic Centre is the site for Friday’s openers, with the women starting things off at 6 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 8 p.m. Saturday’s games are at Columbia Place (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).

Friday will be Senior Night for Cascades fifth-year standouts Monique Huber and Nick Bruce, as they play the final regular-season home games. They will be honoured in an on-court ceremony taking place immediately after the women’s game finishes.

Huber and Bruce will have further opportunities to play at home, though, as the Cascades are hosting the PACWEST volleyball championships for the first time in program history next week (Feb. 22-24, Envision Financial Athletic Centre). Both UFV teams have clinched playoff berths, and tournament passes will be on sale at the box office this weekend.

WVB: Cascades looking to lock up No. 3 seed

Monique Huber’s five years with the Cascades will be celebrated on Friday.

Friday, Feb. 16: No. 7 Cascades (13-9, T-3rd in PACWEST) vs. CBC Bearcats (9-13, 5th in PACWEST), 6 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre

Saturday, Feb. 17: Cascades at Bearcats, 5 p.m., Columbia Place

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Cascades enter the final weekend of the regular season tied with the Capilano Blues for third place in the PACWEST, so they’ve got something to play for this weekend. The Bearcats, meanwhile, have also secured their playoff berth, and they’re locked into the No. 5 seed.

But aside from what’s on the line, games between the Cascades and Bearcats always produce an electric atmosphere in the gym.

“The home-and-home with CBC is always a weekend both teams look forward to,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said. “There’s great crowds in both gyms, and it’s a great opportunity for growth going into the playoffs.”

Players to watch: Monique Huber has been a pillar of the Cascades program over her five years on campus. The 6’0” middle out of Vancouver’s Carson Graham Secondary has annually been among the most dangerous servers in the PACWEST, leading the league in total aces (45) and aces per set (0.58) last season. She’s also been an efficient attacking and blocking presence for the Cascades. Huber has battled through injuries as a senior, but even when sidelined, she’s been able to positively impact the team through her outstanding leadership qualities. On the other side of the net, CBC’s Jodi Enns has put together a tremendous senior season, leading the PACWEST in total offence (4.99 points/set).

MVB: Cascades aim to climb standings on final weekend

Nick Bruce (centre) plays his last regular-season home game as a Cascade on Friday.

Friday, Feb. 16: Cascades (10-12, 5th in PACWEST) vs. CBC Bearcats (4-18, 7th in PACWEST), 8 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre

Saturday, Feb. 17: Cascades at Bearcats, 7 p.m., Columbia Place

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Cascades men’s volleyball team comes into the final regular-season weekend sitting fifth in the PACWEST, but they’re only two games back of Camosun (12-10) and one back of Douglas (11-11) in the race for playoff seeding.

The Bearcats have more at stake – they’re on the wrong side of the playoff bubble, sitting seventh at 4-18, but they can overhaul the idle College of the Rockies Avalanche (5-19) for the final playoff berth by winning one match this weekend (CBC owns the head-to-head tiebreaker).

“We know they’re going to be hungry for a win,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “What we’re the most excited for is, it’s an opportunity to get a playoff-like atmosphere for two matches prior to the playoffs. I expect pretty sizeable crowds both nights. As much as we made things more difficult for them (by losing a match to COTR last weekend), for us it’s a benefit because these two games are going to feel so much like the playoffs. It’s great preparation for us for what’s to come, and CBC has been playing really well this semester.”

Players to watch: Fifth-year left side Nick Bruce has been a three-year starter for the Cascades, but he’s taken it to another level as a senior. The Surrey, B.C. product ranks among the PACWEST’s leaders in total offence (3.93 points/set, sixth), kills (3.23/set, sixth), blocks (0.48/set, 11th) and digs (2.01/set, 10th). Those statistics are indicative of how Bruce has developed into an outstanding all-around player during his time at UFV, and the Cascades also value his leadership. The Bearcats are led offensively by Ben Smith, who ranks ninth in the league in total offence (3.44 points/set).

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Indigenizing at UFV

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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