UFV Sports Thursday – WVB: Cascades Come Through in the Clutch, Top Avalanche in Playoff Opener – Men’s Volleyball and Women’s Hoops Are Out

Women’s Volleyball (Jordie Arthur, Cascades communications assistant): Cascades come through in the clutch, top Avalanche in playoff opener

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team was pushed to the limit, but came out on top in an epic five-set playoff match against the College of the Rockies Avalanche on Thursday afternoon in New Westminster. 

The Cascades, seeded No. 4 at the PACWEST championship tournament hosted by Douglas College, topped the No. 5 Avalanche by scores of 12-25, 25-19, 25-15, 17-25, 15-11. The UFV squad advances to the semifinals on Friday, where they’ll face the top-seeded VIU Mariners (5:30 p.m., Douglas College, pacwestbc.tv).

“The first set was a little bit of playoff nerves, but we found a way to settle ourselves down,” UFV head coach Janelle Rozema said afterward. “In the second set, we really started defending whereas in the first set we had trouble with that, and that really added to our game.

“We also had some key players who really stepped up today. I thought (left sides) Kristen McBride and Amanda Matsui had big matches, which was a big difference from the last time we played COTR.”

The Cascades looked to start well, securing an ace by Kara Williams on the opening point of the match, but the Avalanche struck back, developing a 17-10 lead. COTR would make no mistake from there, picking up eight of the final 10 points to take it 25-12. The Avalanche were strong at the net, racking up six blocks in the set.

COTR attempted to build on that momentum in the second, jumping out to a 4-1 lead, but UFV would even it at 4-4 following kills by Sedona Arabsky and Chelsea Kidd. The teams traded blows to 7-7, but the Cascades rattled off four straight points to make it 11-7. UFV extended its lead through the middle portion of the set, and went on to close it out 25-19. 

The Cascades worked their way to a 14-10 lead in the third, and a block by Kidd and an ace by Matsui would help them extend it to 18-10. The teams exchanged points in the latter stages, and a Matsui kill would eventually seal it, 25-15 for UFV. 

The teams found themselves level at 7-7 in the fourth, but the Avalanche snagged the next four points with Claire Sheppard at the service line to go up 11-7. COTR stepped on the gas from there, extending the lead to 24-13. UFV would pull four points back, but the Avalanche finished it out 25-17. 

The Cascades came out flying in the fifth, picking up a Matsui kill and a Williams ace on the way to a 3-0 advantage. Kills by Sheppard and Whittall helped COTR cut the deficit to 6-5, and after a pair of side-outs, a Katie Friesen ace drew them level on 7-7. The Cascades re-established their three-point lead, 10-7, after a kill by Matsui and a massive block from Alysha Cooper that brought the crowd to its feet. The Cascades’ Williams and Avalanche’s Mariah Prust traded aces to make it 12-10. With the score 13-11, McBride secured a block, and Cooper’s next serve proved to be too much to handle as the Cascades closed it out 15-11. 

Matsui had a monster game for the Cascades, notching a team-high 14 kills and five aces on her way to player of the game honours. Kidd knocked down 13 kills, while Williams added 35 set assists and three aces to the effort. 

Whittall was the Avalanche’s player of the game after posting a game-high 17 kills. Kate Arabadji added 12 kills, and Sheppard notched 10. 

The Cascades’ challenge in the next round is significant – VIU is the two-time reigning CCAA national champion, and they posted a perfect 24-0 record in conference play this season.

“There’s no hiding that we have a really tough opponent ahead of us tomorrow,” Rozema noted. “But our focus is, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is – you have to take care of your own side. Whether we’re playing the worst team in the league or the best, we just have to execute on our side.”

Men’s Volleyball: Cascades eliminated from PACWEST championship by Blues

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team fell in straight sets to the Capilano University Blues in the PACWEST quarter-finals on Thursday in New Westminster. 

Capilano, seeded No. 3 at the PACWEST championship tournament hosted by Douglas College, secured the victory 25-18, 25-21, 25-10 to move on to the semifinals, while No. 6 seed UFV sees its season come to an end.

“You know, we always have a dream of the Rudy scenario,” reflected Cascades head coach Nathan Bennett, “but at the end of the day they (Capilano) played a better game than we did and I commend them. They did a great job.”

Capilano opened the match hot, building a 20-14 lead before finishing off the opening set 25-18.  

The Blues took an early 5-1 lead in the second. They extended that advantage to 9-2 following a Simon Friesen ace. With the score at 18-10, the Cascades grabbed five of the next seven points to close the gap to 20-15. Capilano responded, pushing their lead to 24-17, but the Cascades would side-out and Caleb Kastelein followed it up with a massive kill from the back row. An Andy Barrero ace helped the Cascades cut the deficit to 24-21, but that was as close as they would get as Capilano secured a block to seal it 25-21. 

Capilano jumped ahead 3-0 in the third, and extended their advantage to 7-1 with Enis Besirevic at the service line. The Blues did not let up, increasing the lead to 21-7. With the score 24-10, a long rally looked to go the Cascades’ way multiple times, but the Blues managed to fend it off and close it out on a kill by Rafael Hilario, 25-10. 

Kastelein was named UFV’s player of the game, posting 10 kills and five digs. Landon Uy added eight kills and four digs on the night. 

“Story of the year, right – Caleb and Landon,” Bennett said, lauding his star left sides. “I thought Caleb had an outstanding first set. He was put in some trouble in the second and third that brought his numbers down a bit, but at the end of the day he’s a good athlete and I’m looking forward to seeing his growth as we go on.”

Jacob Hopkins paced the Blues with 10 kills, while Hilario added nine. Ben Friesen also chipped in seven kills. 

“It’s the end of an era,” Bennett noted, alluding to the fact that Thursday’s loss marked the program’s last PACWEST game before moving up to Canada West next season. “We are now officially looking forward to joining the Canada West, and the work just gets more intense from here.”

Women’s Basketball: Pandas dial up the defence in quarter-final win over Cascades

CALGARY – An airtight defensive performance and some blue-collar work on the boards paved the way for the Alberta Pandas as they knocked off the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades 62-48 in Canada West women’s basketball quarter-final action on Thursday.

The Pandas limited the Cascades to just 27.1 per cent shooting from the field (16-for-59), and while they didn’t shoot much better themselves (31.4 per cent), they generated extra possessions by winning the rebounding battle (55-35) in decisive fashion.

With the win, Alberta advances to Friday’s semifinal to face the Calgary Dinos, who got past the UNBC Timberwolves 87-68 in Thursday’s earlier quarter-final.

The Cascades, owners of the nation’s longest active win streak (12) coming in, see their season come to an end.

“It was a really fun journey that this team took us on,” UFV head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “I’m really proud of the girls. It was a really enjoyable team to coach, and that showed, I think, with our results this year. They just loved being around each other and playing with each other.

“I think tonight, we came up against a pretty good team that was bigger than us and more physical than us, and with their experience, played a little smarter than us. We’re one of the youngest teams in the country, so for us to get this experience is invaluable. Hopefully this inspires our team to have a great off-season, and come back stronger and faster and better. I’m excited about where we’re going.”

The Pandas’ defensive chops were on display from the opening tip – they held the Cascades scoreless for nearly four minutes to start the game, with rookie forward Deanna Tuchscherer eventually breaking through with a bucket in the post.

Alberta built a 15-4 lead, but UFV responded with a 10-0 run bridging the first and second quarters, capped by back-to-back triples from Tuchscherer and Maddy Gobeil, to cut the deficit to 15-14. The Pandas, though, buckled down on defence once again, scoring the next eight points and taking a 31-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.

Throughout the second half, Alberta answered every UFV surge with one of their own. The Cascades’ last gasp came after Gobeil hit consecutive treys to trim the deficit – which had peaked at 21 points in the third quarter – back down to 12, at 50-38, with 7:30 left in regulation. Jenna Harpe helped the Pandas seal the win, though, scoring eight points down the stretch.

Harpe finished with a game-high 18 points for the Pandas, and Vanessa Wild (14) and Morgan Mudge (11) also scored in double figures.

Gobeil paced the Cascades with 16 points, Tuchscherer scored 13, and senior forward Taylor Claggett – UFV’s all-time leading scorer – posted eight points and four rebounds in what turned out to be the final game of her university career.

“Honestly it’s tough right now, but you look back, and we accomplished so much more than people thought that we would,” Claggett said. “I’m just grateful that I was able to end with such a great group of girls.”

Pandas head coach Scott Edwards noted that his team “found our groove defensively” in the second semester.

“Fraser Valley is so talented offensively, we had our hands full tonight,” he said. “But I’m so proud of our kids. I think we stepped up, for sure.”

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