Abbotsford/Chilliwack – The University of the Fraser Valley basketball and volleyball teams launch into 2016 with an exciting slate of home games this weekend.
The Cascades are set to host a total of eight games on the UFV Abbotsford campus, split between the Envision Athletic Centre (basketball) and the adjacent Student Activity Centre (volleyball).
The basketball teams welcome the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) in a series of pivotal Explorer Division clashes.
The volleyball teams face a stiff test against the Camosun Chargers, who are nationally ranked on both the men’s and women’s sides. Games run Friday evening (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday afternoon (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).
Men’s Basketball: Cascades look to get back on track vs. Royals
As they emerge from the Christmas break, the Cascades men’s basketball team finds itself with an unfamiliar task – trying to snap a regular-season losing streak.
The Cascades ended the first semester with a pair of road losses to the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, their first back-to-back defeats in Canada West conference play in over two years. The last such occasion was Nov. 22 and 23, 2013, when head coach Adam Friesen’s squad fell on consecutive nights on the road to the Alberta Golden Bears and the Saskatchewan Huskies.
UFV (5-3) still holds down second place in the Explorer Division, and they’ll look to get back on track against the sixth-place Royals (2-6).
“We’re excited to get back playing,” Friesen said. “Mount Royal has really caused us some trouble the last couple years, so we know we’re going to be in for a good test. I think the guys are ready.”
UFV’s Kevon Parchment is coming off a fantastic fall semester, ranking no lower than 26th in the conference in all five of the major counting stats. The versatile 6’3” fifth-year guard from Scarborough, Ont. is ninth in scoring (17.1 points per game), second in assists (5.5), 14th in rebounds (7.0), sixth in blocks (1.5) and 26th in steals (1.4).
Backcourt mate Vijay Dhillon has staged a breakout performance this season – the Richmond, B.C. product leads the team and ranks eighth in Canada West at 17.3 points per game. He’s also hitting a robust 42.9 per cent of his shots from beyond the arc while leading the conference in three-pointers made (33).
The Cougars are led by 6’8” rookie forward Brett Layton, who is averaging 18.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and a Canada West-best 2.5 blocks per game.
Women’s Basketball: UFV aims to climb standings during homestand
The UFV women’s hoopsters, like the men, ended the first semester with a pair of losses to TRU and are looking to ignite a second-half surge this weekend against Mount Royal as they pursue a sixth consecutive Canada West playoff berth. The Cascades currently sit fourth in the Explorer Division at 4-4, while the Cougars are 1-7.
“It’s important that we take advantage of these next two weekends at home,” said Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer, alluding to the fact the UFV basketball teams play at the Envision Athletic Centre again next week vs. UNBC. “It gives us an opportunity to play in a comfortable environment that we tend to have success in.
“Through December, we’ve been able to add a few things at both ends of the floor. It’s an opportunity for us to implement some of that stuff.”
Kayli Sartori has had an explosive start to the season, and the Cascades are looking for more of the same from the fourth-year guard/forward out of Abbotsford’s W.J. Mouat Secondary as the calendar flips to 2016. Sartori is atop the conference scoring list, averaging 19.0 points per game on 45 per cent shooting from the field, to go with 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.
The Cascades have also gotten tremendous performances from fifth-year guard Shayna Cameron (14.5 points per game, 16th in Canada West) and first-year forward Taylor Claggett, a rookie of the year candidate who is averaging 14.1 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Melissa Moore is the Cougars’ chief offensive threat – the 6’2” forward paces her team in both scoring (11.1 points per game) and rebounding (7.1).
Men’s Volleyball: Cascades eager for another crack at Chargers
Camosun comes into this weekend with a flawless 12-0 record in PacWest conference play, and the heady distinction of owning the No. 1 spot in the CCAA national rankings.
But the Cascades (7-5, third in the PacWest, No. 15 in the national rankings) have already demonstrated this season that they have what it takes to compete with the Chargers. Back on Nov. 14 in Victoria, UFV took the first two sets, but Camosun rallied to win the next three (all by two points) to preserve their undefeated record.
The Cascades are hoping that they can get over the hump this weekend in front of their home fans.
“I think the guys will be motivated in a big way,” UFV head coach Kyle Donen said. “It’s in our gym, and it’s against a team we wanted to beat last time and let it slip away. We want to come out and put together a really good performance and win this weekend.
“We’re going to relish the opportunity to play in front of our own fans. I know the guys have been eager to get back into the swing of things for a while now.”
Donen’s squad has gotten great performances this season from the likes of right side Joel Kleingeltink (third in the PacWest in total offence, fourth in kills), left side Adam Chaplin (second in aces, eighth in kills), middle Dayton Pagliericci (second in blocks) and libero Isaiah Dahl (first in digs).
The Cascades will be keeping close tabs defensively on Camosun’s Savana Walkingbear, who ranks fourth in the conference in total offence and third in kills.
Women’s Volleyball: Cascades aim to maintain momentum
The Camosun women’s volleyball team, likewise, represents a tough match-up for UFV – they’re No. 9 in the CCAA national rankings, and are tied for second in the PacWest at 8-4.
But the Cascades (4-8, fifth in the PacWest) can draw confidence from their mid-November performances against the Chargers in Victoria. Though they were swept in the two-game series, they took three sets from Camosun that weekend, highlighted by a hard-fought five-set loss in the opener. Moreover, head coach Mike Gilray’s squad ended the first semester with a strong showing against the Capilano Blues, earning a weekend split against a team ranked No. 7 in the nation at the time.
Gilray said his team’s first go-around against Camosun represented a turning point in their season.
“In our individual meetings, I asked a few players about their highlights of the first semester, and all of them mentioned that weekend,” he said. “It was some of the best volleyball we had played.
“I think that was the weekend the girls realized they can play with a team of that calibre. We need to start the new year off at that same level.”
Monique Huber will be looking to continue her momentum from a sparkling first half – the third-year middle leads the PacWest in aces (0.65 per set) and ranks 15th in total offence (2.56 points per set). The Cascades have also enjoyed strong performances from the likes of libero Amy Davidson (3.58 points per set) and setter Nicole Blandford.
Reena Randhawa is rejoining the Cascades’ active roster this semester. The third-year setter from Abbotsford redshirted during the fall due to work commitments.
“She’s practiced with us every week,” Gilray noted. “She’s a returning player, and she brings experience to the team.”
The Cascades’ most pressing task defensively will be slowing down Chargers outside hitter Michelle Zygmunt, who leads the league in kills (3.60 per set) and total offence (4.23).