Weekend Preview: Soccer teams seek playoff berths, volleyballers hit the road, hoopsters close out preseason

It’s a busy weekend for the University of the Fraser Valley athletic department.

The Cascades soccer teams wrap up their Canada West regular-season schedules with playoff on the horizon, the volleyball teams embark on their longest road trip of the campaign, and the basketball teams play exhibition games with their regular-season tip-off just one week away.

MSOC: Cascades host T-Wolves for two-game set

Team captain Tammer Byrne will be among three graduating seniors celebrated on Saturday in a pregame ceremony.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades (6-6-1, 4th in Pacific Division) vs. UNBC Timberwolves (5-3-5, 3rd in Pacific Division), 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 20: Cascades vs. Timberwolves, 6:30 p.m.

MRC Sports Complex / Field 4

Webcast: CanadaWest.tv

After a red-hot start to the season, the Cascades have cooled off of late, dropping their last four games. But they still control their own playoff fate, requiring either one win or two draws over their final two games of the regular season to secure one of the Pacific Division’s four post-season berths.

Their opponent this weekend is a veteran-laden UNBC squad which sits just ahead of the Cascades in the standings but still has work to do to clinch a playoff spot. On the outside looking in, but still with a mathematical chance, are Thompson Rivers (fifth, 4-6-3) and Victoria (sixth, 4-7-3).

“It’s obviously a huge weekend,” UFV bench boss Tom Lowndes said. “We haven’t helped ourselves over the past couple weeks, and we’ve put more pressure on ourselves than we probably needed to. But it’s time for us to step up and deliver, and show we deserve to be in the playoffs. I’m confident we’ll be prepared Friday and Saturday to make that happen.”

Players to watch: On Saturday, the Cascades will be honouring a trio of fifth-year players in a pregame Senior Night ceremony. The goalkeeping duo of David Hicks and Alex Skrzeta, and team captain and centre back Tammer Byrne will be playing their final home games in Cascades colours, and all three have made massive contributions to the program during their time at UFV. The defensive-minded trio will be looking to limit fellow fifth-year Francesco Bartolillo, who leads the T-Wolves in goals (five), assists (four) and points (nine).

WSOC: Cascades look to punch playoff ticket on the road

Jashan Sandhar has been a standout for the Cascades this season.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades (4-5-3, 5th in Pacific Division) at Victoria Vikes (6-5-1, 4th in Pacific Division), 5 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 20: Cascades at UBC Thunderbirds (10-2-0, 2nd in Pacific), 6:30 p.m.

Webcast: CanadaWest.tv

The Cascades women’s soccer team is on the brink of locking up its seventh consecutive Canada West playoff berth, but like the UFV men, they still have work to do.

The UFV side is fifth in the Pacific Division, safely inside the six-team cut line for now. But with two games remaining, the seventh-place TRU WolfPack are five points back and still have a mathematical chance to catch the Cascades. But the WolfPack would need to win out; any dropped points would send UFV through. And all the Cascades require is a single point across two games at UVic and UBC, as they own the head-to-head tiebreaker.

“We’ve just got to focus on what we control,” said UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht. “We started the regular season against these two teams, and it’s fun to finish the regular season against two historic powers. I feel our team has improved a lot, and we’re excited to challenge ourselves against two quality sides.”

Players to watch: Cascades rookie Jashan Sandhar has been a revelation this season, sparking the UFV offence with her speed on the wing. The North Delta, B.C. product notched her first career Canada West goal last Sunday against Alberta, and her four assists are second-most on the team and have her tied for ninth in Canada West. The Cascades’ opponents this weekend feature high-powered offensive weapons of their own. Georgia Bignold leads the Vikes in goals (seven) and points (10), and she scored twice against UFV in a 5-1 UVic win in Abbotsford on Sept. 8. The T-Birds are led by Danielle Steer, who is tied for the conference lead in goals (eight) and ranks second in points (18). She notched three assists at the Cascades’ expense in a 4-1 win on Sept. 7.

MVB: Cascades look to be road warriors

Evan Bell-Foley and the Cascades aim to excel on the road this weekend.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades (0-2, T-5th in PACWEST) at College of the Rockies Avalanche (0-4, 7th in PACWEST), 8 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 20: Cascades at Avalanche, 3 p.m.

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Cascades volleyball teams’ first road trip of the season is also their longest, as they travel to Cranbrook, B.C. to take on the College of the Rockies Avalanche.

On the men’s side, Friday’s winner will be celebrating their first victory of the young campaign; both the Cascades and Avalanche went winless on opening weekend.

“It’s a trip that tests your team, but it helps you build your team chemistry, too,” said Cascades head coach Kyle Donen. “So there are elements of the trip I’m looking forward to.

“It’s not an easy place to play. It’s their home opener, and I expect it to be a bit of a raucous crowd. It’ll be a good test for us, going into a hostile environment. And COTR went 0-4 last weekend and will be excited to get a win, just like we are.”

Players to watch: Cascades fourth-year captain Ben Friesen was a standout on opening weekend vs. VIU. On Friday he had a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs, and he racked up 16 kills in Saturday’s rematch. On the other side of the net, much of the Cascades’ defensive attention will be devoted to stopping 6’8” Brazilian middle Breno Fabbri, who leads the team in kills at 2.33/set.

WVB: Cascades seek to bounce back vs. Avalanche

Hanna Hieltjes and the Cascades volleyball women are in search of their first win.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades (0-2, 6th in PACWEST) at College of the Rockies Avalanche (1-3, 5th in PACWEST), 6 p.m.

Sunday, Oct. 20: Cascades at Avalanche, 1 p.m.

Webcast: pacwestbc.tv

The Cascades women’s volleyball team took its lumps against the defending national champion VIU Mariners on opening weekend, and they’ll look to get in the win column this weekend in Cranbrook. Complicating matters, the Cascades are a little dinged up injury-wise, but head coach Mike Gilray has been thrilled with the depth of his squad.

“Road trips are always great for connecting, and obviously the tough part is starting off the year trying to play a game after you’ve been on the bus for 12 hours,” he said. “We’re a little bit under the weather right now with a couple injuries, so that’ll be a challenge. But it’s also an opportunity. I’ve talked many times about our depth, and it’s a chance for those players to let their games show.”

Players to watch: Cascades fifth-year captain Kim Bauder had a strong start to the season, racking up 15 kills and five aces on opening night and following with another seven kills on Saturday vs. VIU. The Avalanche’s offensive leader thus far has been sophomore Taylor Whittall; if her name sounds familiar, it’s because her older brother Matt plays for the UFV men’s team. She’s averaged 2.06 kills per set.

WBB: Cascades in Edmonton for exhibition tourney

Kate Head and the Cascades have two more preseason games before the start of conference play next week.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades vs. Lethbridge Pronghorns, 2 p.m. MT / 1 p.m. PT

Saturday, Oct. 20: Cascades vs. Victoria Vikes, 1 p.m. MT / 12 p.m. PT

The Canada West basketball regular season tips off in just a week’s time, and the Cascades women’s hoopsters are in Edmonton this weekend for a pair of neutral-site games at a preseason tourney hosted by the Alberta Pandas.

It’s the final warm-up for the team before the Thompson Rivers WolfPack come to town next week for the Canada West curtain-raiser. Games run Friday, Oct. 26 (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday, Oct. 27 (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

“It’s our last opportunity to get as many things organized as we can before we head into conference play next weekend,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on this weekend’s preseason clashes with Lethbridge and Victoria. “For our young kids, it’s a taste of some Canada West teams before we get going, and it’s a good opportunity for us not just to play, but to travel and see what being on the road is all about.”

MBB: Cascades host VIU to wrap up preseason

Sukhman Sandhu and the Cascades men’s basketball team play exhibition games at home this weekend.

Friday, Oct. 19: Cascades vs. VIU Mariners, 7 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 20: Cascades vs. VIU Mariners, 2 p.m.

The Cascades men’s team is also in action this weekend, wrapping up their preseason schedule against a PACWEST program, the VIU Mariners. UFV’s last exhibition warm-up before Canada West play also gives local fans an early opportunity to see the team in action. Admission is free.

“We’re looking to come together and continue looking to build an identity heading into the season,” Cascades head coach Adam Friesen said.

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