UFV Sports Friday – Busy Day For Soccer, Volleyball

Women’s Volleyball: Defending national champs top Cascades in four sets on opening night

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team couldn’t have conceived of a tougher test on opening night, and they showed flashes of their potential in a four-set loss to the reigning national champion Vancouver Island University Mariners on Friday.

The Cascades struggled from the service line in the opening set, opening the door for the Mariners to take it 25-19, but they bounced back in a big way, dominating the second set to the tune of a 25-11 victory. Fifth-year captain Kim Bauder led the offensive push, while setter Kara Williams came up big at the service line to allow the hosts to square the match.

The third and fourth sets, though, went the Mariners’ way by scores of 25-21 and 25-18.

The two teams wrap up the weekend series on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre, followed by the men’s game at 3 p.m.

“There were definitely times when I was really excited about the quality of volleyball we were playing,” Cascades head coach Mike Gilray said. “One of my comments at the start of the game was that we need to work on being consistent for longer periods of time. At times, we played elite-level volleyball, but we also had some bad stretches where we didn’t make them earn their points.

“Some people are okay with inconsistencies at the start of the year, because teams are still learning. But like I said to the girls, we’ve worked too hard to let that be our story.”

The Cascades had a boom-or-bust performance at the service line. On one hand, they racked up 14 aces including five apiece from Williams and Bauder; on the other, the team combined for 19 errors.

Bauder had a big night overall, tallying 15 kills on 41 swings, and fellow left side Amanda Matsui chipped in with nine kills and a team-high 21 digs.

Gilray was also thrilled to see his team’s depth shine through. After a slow start to the third set, middles Lauren Poirier and Alysha Cooper and right side Chelsea Kidd entered the game, and they gave the Cascades a spark.

“The nice part of playing a VIU is, they make your mistakes hurt,” Gilray summarized. “They take those points when you’re not playing well. That’s what’s great about starting off against a national champion, a program that knows how to compete from Day 1. We’ve got to bring our best game against VIU, and today, we didn’t do that for long enough.”

Men’s Volleyball: Cascades fall in four sets to Mariners

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team dropped a four-set decision to the visiting Vancouver Island University Mariners on the opening night of the PACWEST season.

Playing at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre on Friday, the Mariners took the first two sets by scores of 25-20 and 25-21, but the youthful Cascades showed some grit to win the third set 25-21 behind some strong serving from Josh Fefchak. VIU, though, ironed things out in the fourth, closing out the match by a 25-16 count.

The two teams lock horns again on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m., EFAC).

“I thought we started a little bit slow overall,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen analyzed. “Our serve-pass game looked a bit shaky, and I don’t think we really ever found a rhythm.

“But I saw some spurts of good volleyball from us tonight. This is a tough team to be playing on our first weekend. . . . I don’t think they were at their best, either, and I think we had a chance to win that match if we were a little more consistent.”

Fourth-year captain Ben Friesen paced the Cascades’ offence with 12 kills. Outside hitters Landon Uy (seven kills) and Matt Whittall (six) also chipped in offensively, and middles Fefchak and Ian Jagersma had five kills apiece.

Uy (11) and Friesen (10) registered double-digit digs, and Fefchak racked up four aces.

Donen was particularly pleased with the play of his middles – starters Fefchak and Jagersma, and rookie Jackson Obst off the bench. Donen, in fact, made liberal use of his bench throughout the match, and felt the Cascades’ depth sparked the squad.

“The guys off the bench performed well, and gave us that little bit of life when it looked like we were down and out at times,” Donen said.

Women’s Soccer: Dadrao strikes late to lift Cascades past Cougars

Rob Giesbrecht predicted it, and Harneet Dadrao delivered.

Dadrao’s goal in the 79th minute on Friday evening was the difference as the University of the Fraser Valley women’s soccer team edged the Mount Royal Cougars 1-0 at MRC Sports Complex.

Her scoring success fulfilled a prophecy Cascades head coach Giesbrecht made at halftime.

“At the half, I told her she’d be the one to win it for us,” Giesbrecht said of his sophomore midfielder. “Brittney (Zacharuk) was effective most of the game getting behind them, so when she got their ball, their two centre backs dropped and there was a big pocket of space in front of them.

“She (Dadrao) is such a special player and such a gifted finisher, and we just want her to be in more situations where she has the opportunity to finish, and also believe in herself more to pull the trigger. And it was good to see both those things happen and result in a goal.”

Friday’s first half was a low-event stretch of soccer, with neither team able to string together enough passes to create a truly great scoring chance.

The second half, though, featured plenty of quality looks at goal. The lion’s share of those belonged to the host Cascades, who outshot the Cougars 9-2 over the latter 45 minutes. They had three great looks in quick succession, beginning in the 52nd minute when Gurneet Dhaliwal steered Zacharuk’s cross just wide. Shortly thereafter, Dhaliwal launched a rocket from the top of the box that Mount Royal keeper Rose Hemans leaped to tip over the bar. Off the ensuing corner, Kate Fisher got on the end of a ball from Vanita Bhullar, but sent it over the net.

The Cougars generated a couple of chances of their own. In the 60th minute, on the counterattack, Haley Nicholson made a couple moves to evade UFV defenders and unleashed a shot from the right side that grazed the outside of the post. Nicholson came close again in the 74th, as her shot from the left bounced solidly off the crossbar and back into the box, but the Cascades were able to clear the ball out of harm’s way.

Five minutes later, Dadrao struck. Zacharuk sent a pass from the left wing to Dadrao in the middle, and she fired a tremendous strike just under the crossbar, out of the reach of Hemans. It was her second goal of the campaign.

UFV sophomore goalkeeper Joven Sandhu registered four saves for her second shutout.

The win enabled the Cascades (4-5-2) to leapfrog the Victoria Vikes (4-5-1) for fourth place in the Pacific Division, though the Vikes have a game in hand. Mount Royal (5-4-2) sits third in the Prairie Division.

“The three points are huge,” Giesbrecht noted. “We’ve thrown some points away this year, and we’re doing all we can to not let that hurt us. We have a very tough schedule being in the division we’re in, and our run in is tough. Mount Royal is sitting third in the Prairie Division, and we knew it was going to be a tough game tonight, and it was.

“I thought we were sluggish in the first half and not assertive as we usually are, and in the second half, we did well. I’m really proud of the performance of the girls in the second half. We challenged them to play with more energy and more passion, and they did.”

The Cascades are back in action on Saturday evening, hosting the Alberta Pandas (5:30 p.m., MRC Sports Complex).

Men’s Soccer: Cascades drop 2-0 decision to top-ranked T-Birds on the road

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team was on even footing at halftime against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team, but the UBC Thunderbirds scored a pair of second-half goals to edge the Cascades 2-0 on Friday in Vancouver.

The T-Birds got goals from Rylan Sangha in the 52nd minute and from Thomas Gardner in the 59th, and weathered some late UFV chances to remain undefeated at 11-0-2. The Cascades fell to 6-5-1, but remain third in the Pacific Division.

“We’ve lost to a very good team tonight,” noted UFV head coach Tom Lowndes, whose team had earned a 1-1 draw against UBC back on Aug. 31. “We kept them scoreless in the first half, and I thought we limited their chances and executed our game plan really well. The first 20 minutes of the second half, we gave them too much space in the midfield. We should have dealt with the first goal better, and the second goal, a kid’s pinged one in from 25 yards out. We gave him (Gardner) three free kicks in dangerous areas, and eventually he’s going to put one away.

“But we never quit. We created some chances, and if one of those goes in, the game gets very interesting. I have no doubt the boys will be ready to go tomorrow.”

Fifth-year goalkeeper Alex Skrzeta earned his third start of the campaign for the Cascades and registered six saves on the night, including four in the first half to keep the game scoreless heading to the break.

Sangha broke the ice on the shot into the bottom left corner, and Gardner made it 2-0 on an outstanding free kick into the top left corner.

Cascades freshman Trevor Zanatta came close in the 72nd minute, but his header went off the bar. Later on, Canada West scoring leader Gurmaan Jhaj had a crack at goal but his shot went just wide.

UFV’s Tammer Byrne and UBC’s Connor Guilherme were their teams’ respective players of the game.

The Cascades continue their road trip Saturday, facing the Victoria Vikes in the provincial capital (7:15 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).

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