Women’s Volleyball: Mariners complete weekend sweep of Cascades
The defending national champion VIU Mariners wrapped up a weekend sweep of the University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team on Saturday afternoon, prevailing in three sets.
The Cascades had their bright moments in a four-set defeat to the Mariners on Friday, but the visitors got off to a great start in Saturday’s rematch and rode that momentum, prevailing by scores of 25-11, 25-18 and 25-19.
Though the scores made it appear that Saturday’s performance was a step back for the Cascades, head coach Mike Gilray noted that his team’s serving and passing metrics actually improved vs. the night before.
“We had fewer aces, but we served almost 10 per cent higher efficiency than yesterday,” he noted. “The frustration for the girls was that they weren’t connecting well enough. . . . We’re going to look to keep getting better.
“We wanted to measure ourselves against a very good team, and we had some good runs against them at times. But that’s a very good volleyball team that has a lot of composure and structure to their game. The outcome wasn’t what we wanted today, but the girls would love to play them again right away, even though we won’t get to for a while. That’s awesome to see.”
Left sides Amanda Matsui and Kim Bauder paced the Cascades offensively – Matsui had eight kills with a 27 per cent hitting efficiency, while Bauder had seven kills at 23 per cent. Matsui also registered a solid 2.13 serve-receive rating, and added nine digs and an ace.
For the second straight day, Gilray was thrilled with the play of his bench. Middles Lauren Poirier and Alysha Cooper, right side Chelsea Kidd, libero Karissa Marazzi and setter Zoe Flowers all saw significant action. Flowers was UFV’s player of the game, and Marazzi’s seven digs were second-most on the team.
“I thought they played really free today and had fun,” Gilray said. “One of the great things about our team is, the girls who come out (of the game) are their biggest supporters. That’s only going to help us as the season goes on.”
The Cascades volleyball teams hit the road next weekend for their longest trip of the season. They head to Cranbrook to face the College of the Rockies Avalanche, Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).
Men’s Volleyball: Close sets break Mariners’ way, Cascades fall in four
The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team battled tooth and nail with the Vancouver Island University Mariners on Saturday afternoon, ultimately dropping a four-set decision to wrap up the opening weekend of the PACWEST regular season.
Each of the first three sets was decided by the minimum two points – the visiting Mariners taking the first two by matching 25-23 scores, and the Cascades bouncing back to take the third 26-24. VIU pulled away in the fourth, though, to seal the victory by a more decisive 25-14 margin.
“It was a pretty close match – until the fourth set, it never really felt like it was out of reach,” noted UFV head coach Kyle Donen, whose squad also dropped a four-setter to VIU on Friday. “We were a play or two away from being able to steal one more, and make it a longer match. We had some improvements from the day before, which was good. We served really poorly last night, and tonight we were a lot more consistent.
“It was a good battle back and forth for both teams. It’s tough to lose the first two of the season, but I like that we got to play against a strong team – it prepares us well for what’s to come in the next couple weeks.”
Donen made four changes to his starting lineup on Saturday, inserting outside hitters Graeme Hughes and Justin Peleshytyk, middle Jackson Obst, and setter Bobby Blaskovits.
“All of those guys came in (off the bench) and did a bit of a job yesterday, and the way our team’s been practicing and competing, I thought they deserved to get a shot early in the season to get into a game,” Donen explained. “The type of weekend we just had is going to help us prepare for a difficult road weekend coming up. It’s good to know we have different guys who can get the job done for us.”
Ben Friesen, the Cascades’ fourth-year captain, had a big night, racking up 16 kills. Freshman Obst also excelled, hammering down eight kills to go with a block and an ace, and Hughes contributed six kills and three blocks.
Up next for the UFV volleyball teams is a road trip to Cranbrook, B.C., where they’ll face the College of the Rockies Avalanche next Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).
Women’s Soccer: Second-half goals come fast and furious as Cascades, Pandas settle for draw
The UFV Cascades and Alberta Pandas engaged in a wild second-half shootout on Saturday evening at MRC Sports Complex, and when the dust had settled, the two teams were all square at 3-3.
The Pandas took a 1-0 lead into halftime on Brooke Lang’s goal in the 26th minute, and the offensive fireworks commenced soon after the teams returned to the pitch.
Sarah Parker and Jashan Sandhar connected to give the host Cascades the lead, and then Anna Dunn and Sydney Daines responded to restore the Alberta advantage.
Daines’s goal came in the 86th minute and had the Pandas poised to snare all three points, but UFV captain Brittney Zacharuk came through with a sensational strike in the 89th minute to secure the draw.
The result leaves the Cascades at 4-5-3, good for fifth in the Pacific Division, while the Pandas sit second in the Prairie Division at 8-1-3.
“It was surprisingly open,” UFV head coach Rob Giesbrecht marvelled. “You think as you get close to the post-season, you’re going to tighten things up and you’re going to be really sound defensively. We just kind of started forcing mistakes of each other, and then capitalizing on those mistakes.
“I think we let it get away from us for a little while in the second half, and luckily, a moment of brilliance by Brittney saved a point for us.”
The Pandas opened the scoring off Brenna Mattiello’s free kick to the right of the UFV penalty area. Mattiello’s effort found Lang alone at the far side of the box, and she slotted home a low shot.
Parker came off the bench in the 58th minute and scored her second goal of the campaign in the 59th. An Alberta defender tried a pass back to goalkeeper Rebecca Reif, but Parker came from out of nowhere to poke the ball past Reif into the net.
Eight minutes later, rookie forward Sandhar gave the Cascades the lead with her first career Canada West goal. On a scramble in the box following Zacharuk’s corner kick, Tavia Jasper knocked the ball back to Sandhar, who fired in a rising shot.
The Pandas had an answer, though. Anna Dunn, in the 74th minute, came blazing down the right wing and hammered a top-corner shot just out of the reach of UFV keeper Joven Sandhu.
In the 84th, Sandhu came up with a massive breakaway stop on Karissa McNutt, but shortly thereafter, Daines gave Alberta the lead in the dying minutes on an outstanding strike from the top of the box into the bottom left corner.
But Zacharuk came through in the clutch to secure a point for the hosts. Amber Korner slipped a pass ahead for Zacharuk down the left wing, and her first touch was a stunning strike from distance that arced over the fingertips of a diving Reif inside the far post.
“High drama, and lots of desire to put the ball in the back of the net,” Alberta head coach Liz Jepsen said. “Two teams playing full-out for the win, and in both cases, attackers managed to get it in the back of the net.
“Lots of fight in both teams. These are all fine young athletes, and that’s what it takes to play at this level.”
The Cascades honoured left back Amber Korner and midfielder Avneet Bhullar in a pregame ceremony. Both player have been with the UFV women’s soccer program for at least five years – six in the case of Korner, who redshirted last season after ACL surgery.
“These are great girls we have in our program, and they have great character,” Giesbrecht said. “We talked about honouring our seniors today, and I’m thrilled we were able to do that and show the character that makes us who we are, by coming back.”
Men’s Soccer (with files from Braedan Willis, Victoria Athletics): Cascades back to .500 after road loss to Vikes
The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team hit a speed bump on the road on Saturday, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Victoria Vikes.
The Cascades had defeated the Vikes by a 4-0 score in Abbotsford back on Sept. 2, but UVic exacted a measure of revenge at Centennial Stadium on Matteo Ventura’s goal in the 65th minute. The two teams had been level at the half, with Victoria’s Rees Goertzen and UFV’s Charandeep Rangi exchanging early goals.
The result drops the Cascades’ record to 6-6-1 on the season. That’s still good for third in the Pacific Division, but they’ve got the UNBC Timberwolves (4-3-5) and the Vikes (4-7-3) still within striking distance. The top four teams make the playoffs.
UFV has just two regular-season games remaining – next Friday and Saturday at home vs. UNBC.
“I thought first half was pretty even, and then second half, we’ve lost our way,” Cascades head coach Tom Lowndes said, reflecting on his team’s performance in Victoria. “We stopped competing, made their lives way too easy, gave the ball away way too much. We were very, very poor, and at the end of the day, we got what we deserved.”
The Vikes drew first blood on Goertzen’s first of the year in the 13th minute. Ian Whibley crossed the ball into the box, causing a scramble in front of the net before Goertzen picked up the loose ball and put it into the back of the net.
The Cascades answered back just two minutes later when Rangi volleyed an outstanding cross from Andrew Peat past Victoria keeper Harjot Nijjar. The two teams would remain scoreless for the remainder of the opening half.
The Vikes would have the first prime scoring opportunity in the second half when Whibley found himself in alone with just UFV keeper David Hicks to beat. Hicks made an aggressive challenge to force Whibley to attempt a chip that ended up going over the net. But Ventura would restore the Vikes’ lead with his ninth goal of his campaign, and it stood up as the winner.