UFV Sports Saturday – Men’s Soccer Denied Canada West Bronze, Volleyball, Basketball

Men’s Soccer: WolfPack deny Cascades in Canada West bronze medal game

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s soccer team’s playoff run ended one step shy of the Canada West podium, as they dropped a 1-0 decision to the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in the conference bronze medal match.

Justin Donaldson’s goal in the 24th minute stood up as the game-winner, and playing in driving wind and rain throughout the second half at UBC’s Ken Woods Field, the Cascades were unable to generate an equalizer despite owning the lion’s share of possession.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of the boys,” said UFV head coach Tom Lowndes, whose team’s hopes of qualifying for the U SPORTS national championship were snuffed in a 7-0 semifinal loss to UBC on Friday. “It would have been very easy for us after last night’s game to hang our heads and be down on ourselves. But our response was fantastic. As a coach, when your players respond that way, show you how much they want it and come off the field in tears, you can’t be anything but proud. I’m gutted for them, but the season as a whole was really good. I’m excited for their future.”

The Cascades had defeated the WolfPack in both prior meetings this season – 1-0 in Kamloops on Aug. 27, and 3-1 in Abbotsford on Sept. 29 – but the third time was a charm for TRU. Donaldson’s goal came from a set piece – he got on the end of Mitchell Popadynetz’s free kick.

The Cascades pushed forward in the second half, and had some threatening moments in the dying minutes off free kicks from Gurmaan Jhaj, but were not able to connect on a clean look.

“I thought in the second half, it was one-way traffic,” Lowndes said. “We were knocking on the door for a good 35 or 40 minutes. We dominated possession, but we didn’t create many great chances. Unfortunately we just didn’t get a little bounce here or there where we could put one in.”

The result closed the book on a strong bounce-back campaign for the Cascades. After missing the playoffs last season for the first time in five years, the UFV side finished third in the Pacific Division and defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies on the road in their playoff opener to advance to the Canada West Final Four for the third time in program history. All of that despite the fact that Lowndes’s roster was among the youngest in Canada West. On Saturday, five first-year players saw significant playing time, and two other rookie starters – Sahib Sidhu and Rajan Bains – were sidelined due to injury.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, a trio of fifth-year Cascades – centre back Tammer Byrne and goalkeepers David Hicks and Alex Skrzeta –  marked the conclusion of their highly accomplished university soccer careers.

“I can’t put into words how much they’ve contributed to this program,” Lowndes said. “They’ve been fantastic, all three of them. They were gutted tonight. It’s a killer as a coach, but to see how much it means to them, they left it all out there tonight and they can hold their heads high in the same way that the whole team can. We gave it everything, and I was really proud of the effort today.”

Women’s Volleyball: Royals rally to edge Cascades in five sets

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team came within a whisker of completing a weekend sweep of the Douglas Royals, but the nation’s No. 2-ranked team managed to claw out a dramatic five-set win on Saturday afternoon in New Westminster.

The Cascades took two of the first three sets, and had two match points in the fifth, but the Royals fended them off and prevailed 17-25, 25-17, 17-25, 25-21, 18-16.

The weekend series between the two nationally ranked squads more than lived up to its billing – the No. 11 Cascades (4-4) winning in four sets on Friday in Abbotsford, and the No. 2 Royals (5-1) bouncing back to salvage the split.

“It’s probably the best volleyball I’ve been a part of at UFV,” Gilray enthused, reflecting on the weekend as a whole. “They (the Royals) are a very good team, and they force you to be good. We played pretty consistent volleyball this weekend, and although it would have been nice to take two, I’m not going to take anything away from our effort. That was a great team across the net, and we did some amazing things.

“I can’t speak enough about the culture this team is creating around itself, and it’s exciting to be a part of. These girls play hard for each other.”

The Cascades picked up where they’d left off on Friday, taking the first set 25-17. They continued to cruise early in the second set, leading 8-6, but the Royals reeled off an 8-1 run and pulled away from there to square the match.

After another 25-17 triumph for the Cascades in the third, Douglas appeared to be well in control in the fourth, leading 20-15. UFV mounted a push to get to within 21-20, but the Royals responded with four of the next five points to force a fifth set.

The fifth featured enough plot twists for an entire match. Tied 4-4 early, the Cascades won an improbable point after Kim Bauder and Karissa Marazzi combined to dig and then return a right-side smash by the Royals. But they were unable to translate that into lasting momentum – the next five points went Douglas’s way.

A couple of Bauder kills, though, trimmed the deficit to 10-9, and the Cascades surged ahead to earn match points at 14-13 and 15-14 after a pair of Amanda Matsui kills. But kills by Caet McCorkell and Kendra Potskin extended the match, and the Royals ultimately prevailed after a Bauder attack went long.

Matsui finished with 21 kills, Bauder had 15, and Hanna Hieltjes added 10 for UFV.

“A little more inconsistent than I would have liked today, with giving up long runs against,” Gilray said. “That’s one of the things we did better last night – we cut those runs off. A lot of it was errors on our side, and letting them get into in-system offence. They have a lot of tough hitters, and it’s hard to stay in front of all of them.

“They played better tonight, for sure. Vania (Oliveira) had an amazing game for them – we pumped a lot of balls at her that would have been points for sure against other teams.”

The Cascades volleyball teams are heading into a bye week, and return to action Nov. 16-17 at home vs. the Capilano Blues.

Men’s Volleyball: Royals wrap up weekend sweep of Cascades

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team was on the wrong end of a three-set decision on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Douglas Royals on the road.

The Royals, No. 7 in the CCAA national rankings, were coming off a victory over the Cascades on Friday in Abbotsford, and they completed a sweep of the home-and-home set in New Westminster by scores of 25-16, 25-20 and 25-15.

Douglas remains undefeated at 6-0, while the Cascades (0-8) head into the bye week still in search of their initial win.

“It was a lot of the same things that were struggles today as yesterday – just overall, not a great weekend for us,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “They played well, I just think we struggled to sustain any pressure and got caught playing from behind most of the way. When a team’s playing with a lead, it’s pretty easy to stay in the driver’s seat. We just struggled to find our game early on in sets, and that made it an uphill climb.

“We’ve now got a week and a half to work on things, and we’ll look to bounce back the last two weekends of the semester.”

Ben Friesen and Jackson Obst, with four kills apiece, led the Cascades’ offence.

Reid Marriott posted a game-high 11 kills, and Max Haronga added eight for the Royals, who hit .527 as a team.

After the bye week, the Cascades volleyball teams return to action Nov. 16-17 at home vs. the Capilano Blues.

Women’s Basketball: Huskies pull away from Cascades in second half

Saskatoon (with files from Matt Johnson, Huskie Athletics) The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team hung with the Saskatchewan Huskies throughout the first half on Saturday night in Saskatoon, but the host Huskies pulled away after the break for a 73-41 win.

Saskatchewan had blitzed the Cascades 87-47 in Friday’s opener, but the Cascades came out with more resolve and physicality in the rematch and were within 27-24 through two quarters.

The Huskies, befitting their status as the nation’s No. 5-ranked team, found some traction offensively in the second half, boosting their record to 3-1. The Cascades slipped back to the .500 mark at 2-2.

“Saskatchewan is one of the best teams in the country,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer noted. “They’re talented at both ends of the floor, and they did things that Saskatchewan is going to do (in the second half). They made shots, made us pay for breakdowns, and wore us down a little bit.”

Saskatchewan had a hot start offensively, opening a 17-5 lead as Sabine Dukate and Maya Olynyk knocked down back-to-back triples.

The Cascades, though, closed the frame on a 10-0 run, bookended by treys from Abby Zawada and Alexis Worrell.

The Huskies were looking to get the transition game early in the second quarter, but a Dukate layup was rejected by Victoria Jacobse, as she swatted the ball out of bounds to get the Cascades bench out of their seats.

Points were at a premium in the second quarter as the two teams exchanged buckets in a 9-9 frame, giving Saskatchewan a 27-24 lead at the break.

The Huskies began to pull away in the third quarter, stitching together a 7-0 run, and they opened the fourth on a 10-0 surge to put the game away.

Katelyn Mallette’s return to the lineup was a positive storyline for the Cascades over the weekend. After sitting out UFV’s first two regular-season games due to injury, she scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting in 18 minutes on Friday. Then on Saturday, she posted a team-high 10 points to go with six rebounds. Amanda Thompson chipped in with six points for UFV, and Taylor Claggett had four points and nine boards.

Dukate’s 15 points paced the Huskies.

“Coming into the game today, we said we had to rebound the ball better and do a better job keeping their bigs out of the paint,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on his team’s gritty first-half performance. “To do that, we had to increase our physicality. I thought we really got pushed around last night, and it was good to see the girls respond to that. We weren’t backing down from things, and I was really happy – that was a big step for our team.”

The Cascades basketball teams return to the friendly confines of the Envision Financial Athletic Centre next weekend to host the Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas.

Men’s Basketball: Huskies battle back in fourth quarter, edge Cascades 77-71

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team pushed the No. 9-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies to the limit on Saturday evening in Saskatoon, only for the offence to go ice-cold at the worst possible time.

The Cascades built a 44-37 lead at the half and were up 64-61 early in the fourth quarter, but endured a five-minute scoring drought midway through the final frame. The Huskies, meanwhile, were reeling off 11 points of their own during that stretch, and that surge powered the hosts to a 77-71 victory.

Saskatchewan improved to 3-1, while the Cascades are 1-3 through two weekends of Canada West regular-season play.

“In the fourth quarter, turnovers really cost us,” UFV head coach Adam Friesen noted. “They upped the intensity, and we had a couple turnovers in a row that lost us the momentum and the lead. We also weren’t able to hit a timely shot, which you need to do in a close game on the road.”

The Huskies came roaring out of the gates, opening a 13-0 lead before the game was four minutes old. The run was highlighted by triples from JT Robinson and Chan De Ciman.

Fifth-year forward Mark Johnson helped the Cascades turn the tide. He drained a three-pointer to get UFV on the board, and went on to count three more treys among his 15 first-half points. The Cascades closed the gap to 24-17 at the end of the first quarter, and blitzed the hosts 27-13 in the second to take a seven-point edge into halftime.

UFV led for most of the third and into the fourth, holding a 64-61 advantage after Vick Toor knocked down a pair of free throws with 7:56 left in regulation.

Neither team was able to muster a point for the next three-and-a-half minutes, and it was the Huskies who finally broke through, as Robinson, De Ciman and Lawrence Moore connected on back-to-back-to-back triples. The Cascades, meanwhile, coughed up a trio of turnovers in quick succession, and Sask was able to fend them off from there.

While moral victories don’t count in the standings, the fact the Cascades were in a position to win in the fourth quarter was indicative of a much better performance than the night before, when they fell 92-65 to the Huskies. Their defensive performance was particularly encouraging, as they limited Sask to 33.8 per cent shooting from the field.

“We have to understand what kind of energy and physicality needs to be brought to a game every night,” Friesen said. “As a group, that’s probably our biggest issue – being able to muster that type of intensity. Tonight we had it, and we gave Saskatchewan a really good game. We just have to find consistency with that.”

Johnson had an outstanding performance for UFV, stuffing the stat sheet with 19 points, eight rebounds, five steals, four assists and a block. Toor brought a jolt of energy off the bench, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting to go with four assists, and Parm Bains and Sukhman Sandhu also scored in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

Moore’s 21 points were a game-high for the Huskies, and Robinson scored 18.

The Cascades basketball teams are back in action at home next weekend, hosting the Alberta Golden Bears and Pandas in a Friday-Saturday set at the Envision Financial Athletic Centre.

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