UFV Sports Friday – Playoff Disappointment In Hoops, Volleyball

Women’s Basketball: Hot-shooting Vikes eliminate Cascades from Canada West playoffs

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team was unable to slow the high-octane Victoria Vikes on Friday evening, dropping a 91-62 decision in their Canada West single-elimination playoff clash in Victoria.

The Vikes shot 55.7 per cent from the field behind a tremendous performance from fourth-year guard Amira Giannattasio (33 points, 10 rebounds, three steals) to end the Cascades’ 2017-18 campaign.

The result also marked the conclusion of Shayna Litman and Sara Simovic’s university basketball careers. Both UFV fifth-year standouts scored in double figures – Litman posting a team-high 18 points to go with 10 rebounds, and Simovic notching 10 points. Taylor Claggett added 15 points, eight boards and three assists for the Cascades.

“They came out with a lot of energy tonight, and they were really motivated,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said of the Vikes. “We knew they could execute (offensively), and they did that tonight. Their ball-screen offence was just first-rate, and everything we tried to do, they picked apart. They dictated the pace of the game, and obviously the better team won.”

The Vikes got off to a great start – they led 11-4 lead midway through the first quarter, and reeled off a 9-0 run early in the second to extend the advantage to 39-22. Giannattasio did much of the damage for the hosts, racking up 18 first-half points highlighted by a trio of three-pointers.

The Cascades found some traction midway through the second quarter, responding with a 12-0 run capped by a Claggett layup plus the foul to cut the deficit to 39-34. Victoria, though, ended the frame on a 6-0 surge to take a double-digit lead (45-34) into halftime.

Both teams shot the ball very well in the first half – the Cascades made 51.6 per cent of their attempts from the field, and the Vikes were at 55.9 per cent.

After the break, though, UFV cooled off, shooting just 27.3 per cent the rest of the way. Victoria, meanwhile, stayed piping hot, hitting 55.6 per cent of their shots.

The Cascades kept the deficit in the neighbourhood of 10 points until the final three minutes of the third quarter, when the Vikes scored nine straight points to boost the lead to 20 (68-48) heading to the fourth and essentially drain any suspense from the proceedings.

Kristy Gallagher (19 points) and Katie Langdon (14 points) also had big nights for Victoria.

“I thought Langdon was a real difference-maker tonight – she was 7-of-7 in the first half, and we didn’t really expect that from her,” Tuchscherer noted. “That kind of got us on our heels, and when they’re scoring inside and outside, it’s pretty tough.

“I thought it was pretty key for us to go on that run in the second quarter. It kept us in the game, and at halftime I felt pretty good about where we were at. We’d been so poor defensively . . . and I thought if we tightened things up in the second half, we had a chance. But they came out and hit us hard again.”

Reflecting on the campaign, Tuchscherer noted that while the program earned its eighth straight Canada West playoff berth, consistency proved elusive.

“It’s nice to make the playoffs, but I like to think we have a higher standard for our program than that,” he said. “We need to get to work pretty quick on re-establishing ourselves.”

Tuchscherer lauded the performances of Litman and Simovic in what turned out to be their Cascades finale.

“I thought both Shayna and Sara had terrific efforts tonight,” he said. “Right to the end of the game, they played hard and it’s unfortunate we didn’t have a better finish for them.”

Women’s Volleyball: Avalanche slow Cascades’ offence, earn four-set win

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team struggled to manufacture points on Friday evening in Cranbrook, falling in four sets to the College of the Rockies Avalanche.

The hosts took the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-13, but the Cascades bounced back to take the third 25-21 to extend the match. UFV appeared poised to force a fifth set, leading 23-20 in the fourth, but the Avalanche reeled off the next five points to seal the victory.

The Cascades (12-9, third in PACWEST) get another crack at the Avalanche (7-16, sixth in PACWEST) on Saturday afternoon to wrap up the weekend set (1 p.m. MT, pacwestbc.tv).

UFV head coach Mike Gilray felt his team did a great job in the serving and passing departments, but simply weren’t able to put enough balls away.

“We’re looking to be more consistent, and we’re trying to find the lineup that gives us that consistency,” said Gilray, whose team came in ranked No. 7 in the nation. “If we can eliminate runs, we give ourselves a better chance to be successful. Offensively, we can score well against all teams, but when we try to do too much we make it hard on ourselves.

“Today, I think our offence let us down. There were some good sets and some good locations, and our hitters just weren’t able to put the ball away. Props to COTR – they dug some big hits from us.”

Olivia Heinen and Kim Bauder both had dynamic nights at the service line for the Cascades, and libero Cassidy King and back-row defensive specialist Amy Davidson set the pace in a solid passing performance for the squad. Chelsea Kidd gave UFV a spark off the bench, coming in at right side in the third and fourth sets.

Men’s Volleyball: Avalanche edge Cascades in five-set thriller

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team suffered a five-set defeat at the hands of the College of the Rockies Avalanche on Friday evening in Cranbrook.

In a game of wild momentum swings, the Avalanche took the opening set in decisive fashion, 25-16, but the Cascades came roaring back to claim the next two by 25-20 and 25-19 scores. The Avalanche extended the match with a 25-19 win in the fourth, and they scored four of the last five points in the fifth to seal the victory 15-12.

The Avalanche (5-18) moved ahead of the Columbia Bible College Bearcats to take sole possession of sixth place in the PACWEST, while the fifth-place Cascades fell to 9-12.

“It was a bit of a roller-coaster-type game for us,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said afterward. “I felt like we were fighting the ball like crazy, especially on defence. That definitely posed a challenge for us, but we were in position to win that game. We just didn’t have that last little bit that we needed.”

Middle Dayton Pagliericci paced the UFV offence with 11 kills, right side Matt Whittall notched 10, and left side Ben Friesen chipped in with seven. Carter Bronson’s eight digs led the team, and Whittall pounded four aces.

Donen was pleased with the play of his young players. The Cascades were without kills leader Nick Bruce on Friday – he was sidelined due to injury, though Donen said there’s a chance he plays in Saturday’s rematch (3 p.m. MT, pacwestbc.tv). Rookie Justin Peleshytyk started at left side in Bruce’s absence, and grew stronger as the game wore on. Additionally, sophomore Graeme Hughes and first-years Lucas Mantel and Brendan Loewen gave the team a spark off the bench in the fourth set.

“It wasn’t a picture-perfect game, but at the same time, it was good growth for us to see some young guys come in and play some roles,” Donen said.

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