(Raelyn O’Hara, Cascades student communications assistant) – The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team dropped a three-set decision to the Capilano Blues on Friday evening at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.
The Cascades dug themselves a six-point hole to start the match before clawing their way back into it, but the visiting Blues ultimately prevailed 33-31 in an epic opening set. Capilano rode that momentum to 25-19 and 25-18 wins in the second and third.
The PACWEST-leading Blues boosted their record to a perfect 3-0, while the Cascades fell to 1-2. The two programs clash once again on Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Athletic Centre, with the UFV men seeking a weekend split.
“I thought we battled in the first set really well,” Cascades head coach Kyle Donen said. “But unfortunately we weren’t able to keep it going in the next sets.”
The hosts found themselves quickly behind 8-2 in the first set, but left sides Ben Friesen and Matt Whittall led a Cascades comeback. Some UFV passing struggles allowed the Blues to re-expand the lead, but Nick Bruce went on a serving streak to spark another Cascade surge. Capilano, though, was able to close out the 33-31 win.
The Cascades held leads in both the second and third sets, with much of the offensive damage coming from Friesen and Whittall. However, UFV’s blockers were unable to do much to slow the Blues’ attack, allowing the visitors to pull away.
Friesen paced the offence with 10 kills, and middle Josh Fefchak chipped in with eight kills.
Women’s Volleyball: Cascades defeat Blues in four sets
(Raelyn O’Hara, Cascades student communications assistant) – The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team started off the weekend with a four-set win against the Capilano Blues at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre on Friday.
The Cascades opened a big lead in the first set en route to a 25-20 win, but the Blues came back in the second with a stronger team effort for a 25-20 win of their own. UFV fought hard for their points in the third and fourth and closed out the match by scores of 25-18 and 25-13.
The Cascades moved into sole possession of first place in the PACWEST at 3-0, while the Blues fell to 1-2. The two teams return to the Envision Financial Athletic Centre for a Saturday night rematch (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.).
“We had a few inconsistencies,” said Cascades head coach Mike Gilray. “But in this conference, you have to show up every night ready to play, and despite the youth in our team we came out firing.”
The Cascades had a strong night at the service line with seven aces. Amanda Matsui paced the offence with 11 kills added 11 digs, and libero Karissa Marazzi notched 23 digs.
The Cascades raced out to a 12-3 lead in the first set, as the Blues struggled to pass, leaving UFV with ample opportunities to swing. The left sides were on fire this game with Matsui going on a long serving streak and Kim Bauder scoring the final point on an unreturnable kill. The teams switched roles in the second set with UFV struggling to pass and the Blues on a hitting roll. The third set was closely contested until Cascades senior middle Monique Huber served her team into a 22-16 lead. UFV got a significant head start in the fourth set (14-6) with the help of several Keira Fisher’s kills and some strong serves.
Men’s Soccer: Baart’s brace boosts Vikes past Cascades
(Dan Kinvig, UFV Athletics) – The Victoria Vikes bolstered their playoff hopes at the expense of the UFV Cascades on Friday evening, picking up a 3-0 victory at MRC Sports Complex.
Michael Baart scored twice, Nick Graham added a single, Paulo Dait notched a pair of assists, and goalkeeper Maxwell Branyik-Gil earned a five-save shutout for the Vikes, who came in needing a result to stay alive in the Canada West playoff race. They improved to 6-7-1, leapfrogging the UNBC Timberwolves and UBC Okanagan Heat to move into the fourth and final playoff spot in the Pacific Division.
The Cascades, who were mathematically eliminated from post-season contention earlier in the week, fell to 4-8-3.
The UFV side wraps up its season on Saturday at home vs. the UBC Thunderbirds (6 p.m., MRC Sports Complex, Field 4), while the Vikes can lock up a playoff spot with a win at Trinity Western (7:15 p.m.).
“We didn’t have a chance of getting in (to the playoffs), and how we started the game kind of reflected that, and they were hungry and alive for it,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes analyzed. “We struggled in that first half, and I thought in the second half we came out in the first 10 or 12 minutes and looked really good.
“Again, the story of our season – we create chance after chance after chance, and we don’t score. And then they go down to the other end and kill the game off 3-0 with a goal that we should have dealt with a little bit better. The chances we had and the possession we had at times, it was on for us to score goals. That’s obviously something that we need to be better at.”
The Vikes broke the ice in the 13th minute – Isaac Koch whipped a cross in for Baart, and he rose to head it home with authority.
Both teams had their chances as the half wore on. Branyik-Gil made a great save off UFV’s Spencer Williams from close range off a corner, and at the other end, Cascades keeper Alex Skrzeta leaped to deny Baart’s drive from the top of the box which was labeled for the top corner.
In the 42nd minute, though, the Vikes doubled their lead on a top-corner strike from Nick Graham. Then, in the 61st, Baart notched his second of the night, getting on the end of Dait’s long cross and heading it in from close range.
The Cascades had some promising moments offensively, as evidenced by their 7-1 edge in corners earned. But all too often, no UFV player was able to get a touch on the ball as it was whipped into the box.
Cascades defender Sammy Kajzerek came close to getting his team on the board in the 74th minute, but his header went just over the crossbar. Later on, Kajzerek sent a cross in that Gurmaan Jhaj rose up for, but Branyik-Gil arrived just on time and plucked the ball virtually off the top of his head.
“We’ll freshen it up,” Lowndes said, looking ahead to Saturday’s season finale vs. UBC. “We’ll bring in some young players to give them some experience. Obviously it doesn’t mean anything to us (in terms of the standings), but we want to go out and put a good performance in.”
Women’s Soccer: T-Birds blank Cascades 3-0
(With files from UBC Athletics) – The UBC Thunderbirds’ fifth-year forward duo of Jasmin Dhanda and Aman Shergill was tough on the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team on Friday evening, sparking the T-Birds to a 3-0 win.
Dhanda opened the scoring in the first minute of play at Thunderbird Stadium, becoming the all-time leading scorer in Canada West history in the process. Shergill added a pair of second-half tallies.
Both the Cascades (4-5-4) and T-Birds (8-2-3) are playoff-bound heading into the final day of the regular season. UFV closes its conference schedule with a Saturday road game vs. the Victoria Vikes (5 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).
“It was a challenging game, and it’s a great learning opportunity for us,” Cascades head coach Rob Giesbrecht said. “UBC is a successful team right now – they’re a team that’s going to challenge for a national title, and we saw why. They have veteran players impacting the game.
“When we played with confidence, we were able to be successful and cause our opponent problems. We need to find a way to play more confidently for 90 minutes. That’s what we’re going to strive to do tomorrow.”
UBC, the U SPORTS champion in 2015 and the national silver medalist in 2016, got on the board early when Dhanda found some space and chipped the ball over Cascades keeper Emily Harold.
Shergill hit the post in the 39th minute, but hit the scoresheet in the 55th after being taken down in the box. She stepped to the penalty spot and fired home a shot into the top right.
UFV midfielder Brittney Zacharuk stayed busy throughout the night, putting in a tough shift of box-to-box work. Her in-swinging corner kick in the 65th minute found teammates in the box, almost leading to the Cascades’ first goal of the game, but the ball was cleared by the Thunderbirds.
UBC tallied its third goal of the night on a powerful shot by Shergill inside the box, assisted by Danielle Steer in the 71st.
Standout sophomore right back Kelsey Mitchell was UFV’s player of the game, and Giesbrecht was pleased with the contributions he got off the bench from Avneet Bhullar, Mackenzie Toop and Lexie Gillette.