UFV Sports Friday – Volleyball Split, Tough Night For Hoops

Men’s Volleyball: Top-ranked Mariners earn three-set win over Cascades

(By Raelyn O’Hara, Cascades communications assistant) – The Vancouver Island University Mariners lived up to their advance billing on Friday night, defeating the University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team in three straight sets at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

The Mariners came into Friday’s action in possession of the No. 1 spot in the CCAA national rankings, and the match’s turning point came at the end of the first set. The Cascades, No. 15 in the CCAA poll, were playing well and had built a 22-20 lead, but the Mariners reeled off five straight points to take it 25-22. They would go on to win the next two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-19.

The Cascades (9-10) get another crack at the Mariners (16-3) on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre North Gym, pacwestbc.tv).

“I think we did some good things – we just weren’t able to sustain pressure on them for an entire set,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen analyzed. “We were doing a decent job offensively, we just didn’t sustain it because we were giving up runs because of our passing. We struggled to pass the ball towards the end of pretty much each set. And we gave them a chance to stay close to us because we were missing too many serves as well.”

Cascades left sides Nick Bruce and Ben Friesen were outstanding in the first set, but the Mariners were able to rally in the late stages.

“That was a really good set for us, and we let it slip at the wrong time,” Donen noted. “We had a chance to take that, and it would have changed the whole match.”

Bruce, Friesen and Matt Whittall continued to have success in the second set, which was tied 15-15, but a few errors by the Cascades allowed VIU to pull away.

The third set was a hitter’s game, with tied scores at 10, 13 and 16. But the Mariners started setting stronger blocks, which combined with service and passing errors from the Cascades, allowed the visitors to seal the victory.

Friesen and Whittall tied for team-high honours with 10 kills apiece, and Bruce registered nine. Whittall added 11 digs, and setter Adam Frederickson had 29 assists.

Women’s Volleyball: Cascades notch upset win, topple No. 3 Mariners in four sets

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team defeated the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, the Vancouver Island University Mariners, in an impressive four-set effort on Friday night at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

The Cascades, a highly touted team in their own right at No. 7 in the CCAA national rankings, hadn’t won a set against the Mariners in two prior meetings this season. But they turned in a tough-minded performance on their home court, prevailing by scores of 25-21, 25-20, 16-25, 25-23.

The Cascades (12-7, third in PACWEST) and Mariners (15-4, second in PACWEST) renew hostilities on Saturday afternoon in the EFAC North Gym (1 p.m., pacwestbc.tv).

“It’s a huge win,” UFV head coach Mike Gilray said. “It was probably our best passing match of the year, and Liv (setter Olivia Heinen) did an amazing job of running our offence.

“For us, we’re just looking to continue to get better each night and be peaking at the right time of the year. Coming into these last few weekends, everyone’s solidifying their roles and getting comfortable playing beside each other, and getting ready and prepared to do what they need to do to help the team win.”

In the opening set, Cascades left side Kim Bauder dominated from the service line with a three-point streak highlighted by an ace to help the hosts build a lead, with Heinen and middle Hanna Hieltjes provided strong blocking at the net. The Mariners stayed within striking distance, but UFV’s Amanda Matsui finished off the set with back-to-back kills.

Heinen continued to feed Bauder, Hieltjes and Matsui to keep the momentum flowing in the second set, but the team’s passing weakened in the third set and they fell behind 10-6. Bauder brought the energy back with a series of kills but the Mariners pulled away late in the set to extend the match.

In the fourth set, Hieltjes and Cassidy Pearson turned the momentum UFV’s way with a few solid blocks. Bauder gave the Cascades a 20-17 lead after a pair of kills and another ace, and they fended off the Mariners from there.

Matsui and Bauder both had outstanding all-around performances. They each registered 20 digs, and racked up 16 and 13 kills, respectively. Hieltjes notched eight kills on 16 swings to give the Cascades great offensive balance, and Heinen posted 46 set assists.

Men’s Basketball: Bisons lock it down on defence in win over Cascades

The Manitoba Bisons turned in a masterful defensive performance on Friday evening, smothering the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 67-46 in Canada West men’s basketball action at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

The Bisons (11-8) limited the Cascades (5-14) to just 16 first-half points, and to 20.6 per cent shooting from the field for the game, as they punched their ticket to the Canada West playoffs.

The two teams wrap up their regular-season schedules with a rematch on Saturday (7 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).

“They’re a very good defensive team,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen said of the Bisons. “They came out with a playoff-type intensity, and for a lot of our guys, they don’t know what that means.

“Their intensity, their physicality and their desire to get a stop each possession really rattled us, no question about it.”

The Bisons built a 17-9 lead at the end of the first quarter, and tightened the screws even further in the second, holding the Cascades to seven points on 1-of-19 shooting in the frame as they went up 34-16 at the break. Rashawn Browne did the bulk of the damage offensively for the visitors, scoring 18 points in the opening 20 minutes.

Manitoba extended the lead to as many as 26 points in the third quarter, and while the Cascades were able to get back to within 16 in the fourth, they would get no closer.

Canada West scoring leader Justus Alleyn paced the Bisons with 23 points, and Browne finished with 20 points. Manitoba didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (37.3 per cent from the field), but their work at the defensive end more than made up for that.

Mark Johnson, Parm Bains and Sukhman Sandhu each registered 10 points for the Cascades, and Daniel Adediran hauled down a game-high 13 rebounds including five on the offensive glass.

Women’s Basketball: Bisons work overtime, punch playoff ticket at Cascades’ expense

The Manitoba Bisons ended an eight-season playoff drought in pulse-pounding fashion, edging the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 79-74 in overtime on Friday evening at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

The Bisons (9-10) have not tasted Canada West post-season play since the 2008-09 campaign, and they punched their long-awaited playoff ticket while simultaneously dealing a blow to the Cascades’ playoff hopes.

UFV (7-12) came into the night tied for the conference’s 12th and final playoff spot with the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, but held the tiebreaker by virtue of their 2-0 head-to-head record. TRU, though, defeated the Brandon Bobcats 80-73 on Friday to improve to 8-11 and take over the last post-season slot.

The Cascades’ playoff equation, then, requires a win over the Bisons in Saturday’s regular-season finale (5 p.m., Envision Financial Athletic Centre, CanadaWest.tv) and a Brandon win over Thompson Rivers.

“I’ve been saying since before Christmas, I’m not scoreboard-watching,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “We’re just trying to get our team to play at a competitive level. If we can do that on the last night of the regular season and it results in something good happening to us, that’s fantastic.”

The first half was closely contested, with the Cascades building a six-point lead in the first quarter before Manitoba rallied to take a modest 32-29 edge into the break.

The Bisons came out of the locker room on fire, opening the third quarter on a 16-3 run capped by an Emma Thompson three-pointer to surge ahead 48-32. The Cascades, though, responded with a monster run of their own, 17-2, to cut the deficit to 50-49 heading into the fourth.

UFV led 64-59 midway through the final frame, but the Bisons hung around and benefitted from Cascades forward Taylor Claggett picking up her fifth and disqualifying foul with three minutes left. A layup from the Cascades’ Shayna Litman with 48 seconds remaining gave the hosts a 69-67 lead, but Addison Martin responded with a bucket of her own to draw Manitoba even. On the Cascades’ ensuing possession, Sara Simovic’s turnaround jump shot from the baseline rimmed out and Katelyn Mallette’s putback attempt also rolled off the rim, and Thompson pushed the ball the other way as the final seconds ticked away. Her initial shot, a jumper from about 10 feet out, was blocked by Litman, but Thompson corralled her own rebound and appeared to drain a go-ahead shot with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. But she was whistled for traveling, sending the game to OT.

The Bisons opened the extra session on a 6-0 run, capped by a Thompson triple, and they kept the Cascades at bay from there.

“I just think it’s a perfect summary of our season,” Tuchscherer said. “Giving up 22 offensive rebounds, missing some key shots down the stretch, the idea of going down big (in the third quarter) and having to use a lot of energy to come back, and really struggling defensively for a lot of the night.”

Fifth-year forward Litman had a huge night for the Cascades, racking up 32 points on 14-of-21 shooting to go with 10 rebounds. Simovic notched 23 points, and Claggett also had a double-double (16 points, 12 boards).

Taylor Randall paced the Bisons with 29 points, Claire Harvey was a thorn in the Cascades’ side with 15 points and 15 rebounds, and Martin chipped in with 10 points off the bench.

BOUNCE PASSES: Saturday’s game will be the final home game for UFV seniors Litman and Simovic. Their careers will be celebrated in a post-game ceremony.

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