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UFV Sports Friday – Women’s Volleyball and Basketball Have Strong Nights

Fraser Valley (Dan Kinvig – with files from UBC Athletics) – Women’s Volleyball: Cascades earn historic victory on the road over UBC

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s volleyball team got into the win column in Canada West in memorable fashion, spoiling the UBC Thunderbirds’ home opener at War Memorial Gym on Friday evening.

The Thunderbirds are the reigning U SPORTS champions, having won the national crown the last time it was contested in 2019. The Cascades, meanwhile, are in their first U SPORTS season, and came into Friday’s action with a banged-up roster – starters Amanda Matsui and Mo Likness were among the UFV players sidelined.

Yet in front of a packed house for UBC’s Pride Night, the Cascades (1-2) came through with a tough-minded performance, toppling the T-Birds (0-1) in four sets (26-24, 22-25, 25-23, 25-21).

“I’m just so proud to say that I think we belong, and I think we measured up to one of the best teams in the league,” UFV head coach Janelle Rozema said afterward.

“It was a really cool atmosphere . . . it was an honour to be part of that environment. It could have been something to distract us, but we were really steady and composed. We had a bullet-proof game plan, and even though we’re a young team, our athletes kept level heads.”

In the first set, the Cascades flexed their resiliency – trailing 24-21, they staved off three set points, ultimately scoring five points in a row to win the set 26-24. Zoe Arca’s serving was instrumental to the comeback – she put pressure on the T-Birds, and notched a pair of aces including one to close out the set.

In the second set, UBC led 16-12 at the technical timeout, but left side Grace Warkentin led a UFV surge as they grabbed a 21-19 lead. The hosts, though, were able to battle back and take it 25-22 to square the match at a set apiece.

The third set was a mirror image of the first – UBC appeared in control, up 23-20, but the Cascades rallied thanks to some strong serving. This time it was Elizabeth Baird getting hot at the line – she closed out the set with back-to-back aces as UFV reeled off five straight points and prevailed 25-23.

In the fourth, Sadie Wilson came through with a quartet of kills in quick succession to help UFV grab a 22-20 lead, and Kristen McBride took over from there, accounting for the Cascades’ last two points of the match via kills of her own.

“It means something, in the sense that it’s the first U SPORTS win in our history,” Rozema said. “The resiliency is on a whole different level, when we’re playing one of the best teams in Canada West, in their gym, when we’re hurting. Winning in four is a huge accomplishment, for sure.

“We talked after the match that we feel we can put anyone on the floor and be successful. But having said that, with the injuries that we currently have on our team, when a teammate is hurting, we hurt for them.

“We were super-tough tonight, though. Our mentality is that volleyball is a one-point by one-point game, and that was definitely what we applied today. One-by-one is what we call it. One point at a time, and you can find your way back into a set, and winning a set, that way.”

UFV boasted a balanced attack on Friday, as all three outside hitters – Warkentin (16), Wilson (15) and McBride (11) – registered double-digit kills.

Wilson and libero Emily Matsui tied for a team-high with 14 digs, and McBride added 11 of her own.

Rozema lauded the play of rookies Matsui and setter Cailin Bitter. Matsui, in the words of her head coach, played a “ridiculous” defensive game, while Bitter, who racked up 40 assists, ran a “gorgeous” offence.

“They both had their breakout game,” Rozema enthused. “Both of them connected tonight.”

Claire Cossarini paced the T-Birds with 13 kills and hit .500 on the night, while Erika Vermette and Cara Kovacs contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively.

The two teams wrap up the weekend series at War Memorial on Saturday at 5 p.m. (CanadaWest.tv).

Men’s Volleyball: Cascades fall to T-Birds in Vancouver

The University of the Fraser Valley men’s volleyball team dropped a three-set decision to the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday evening in Vancouver.

The T-Birds (1-0) prevailed by scores of 25-20, 25-12 and 25-12 at War Memorial Gym, and the Cascades (0-3) will look to bounce back on Saturday as they conclude the weekend set (6:30 p.m., CanadaWest.tv).

“We look at it as learning opportunity,” Cascades assistant coach Derek Meeuwisse said afterward. “It’s an environment we haven’t played in before as a team, and having a packed house at War Memorial is super exciting. The guys were energized and ready to play in this new environment, and I thought we came out really well in the first set. We had some ups and downs, but we ended up battling and getting it pretty close in the end. That was good to see.

“There’s a lot of takeaways from this match. Looking at the serve-receive portion of the game, there’s a lot of areas we can improve on – getting mentally prepared to see the same level of serve again tomorrow night. UBC is not going to let up at all, and we’ve got to be prepared for the same level of aggression off the service line, and be able to handle that as a team together.

“Every match is an opportunity for us to grow together as a team, and we’re looking forward to another opportunity tomorrow.”

In the first set, the Cascades were within three points (16-13) at the technical timeout, but the T-Birds reeled off five points in a row – highlighted by a pair of aces from Michael Dowhaniuk – to go up 21-13. UFV made a run of its own, scoring five in a row including a pair of Nimo Benne kills to cut the deficit to 21-18, but the T-Birds fended off the rally to win 25-20.

UBC built quick leads of 3-0 and 7-2 to open the second set, back-to-back aces from Matt Neaves pushed the hosts’ margin to 19-10, and they cruised from there.

The Cascades battled hard in the third, but UBC was able to open a 16-8 lead at the technical timeout, and some key blocks down the stretch helped the T-Birds close it out.

Benne (seven kills, .353 hitting percentage) and Kastelein (four kills, .429) paced the Cascades offensively, and Jonas Van Huizen registered 18 assists.

Neaves, with 10 kills, led the T-Birds, and he and Dowhaniuk posted five aces apiece.

Women’s Bsaketball: Dominant second half powers Cascades past WolfPack

The University of the Fraser Valley women’s basketball team weathered a scoring drought in the second quarter, but shook it off in emphatic fashion, pulling away for a 73-54 win over the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on Friday evening.

Playing at the UFV Athletic Centre, the Cascades watched the visitors catch fire in the second quarter and grab a 33-29 lead at the half. It was all UFV after the break, though, and they went on to win in blowout fashion.

The Cascades (4-1) and WolfPack (0-5) renew hostilities on Saturday in a rare afternoon start (3 p.m., CanadaWest.tv) at the UFV Athletic Centre. It’s UFV’s final home game of the fall semester.

“All the credit goes to Thompson Rivers – they came out with a lot of energy, and you could see it right from their warm-up,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said, reflecting on his team’s slow start. “They came at us tonight, particularly in that second quarter. From our standpoint, I didn’t think we even remotely stuck to the game plan. We wanted to play this game from the inside out (on offence), and we were playing from the outside in.

“In the second half, we became a little bit more mentally sharp and we stuck to what the plan was, and we had some success with it.”

The Cascades got off to a strong start, building a 21-10 lead in the first quarter with Deanna Tuchscherer and Google Sidhu scoring six points apiece. But the WolfPack ended the frame with a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the centre-court logo by Jessica Orr, and that bucket seemed to spark the visitors as they caught fire in the second quarter. They out-scored the Cascades 20-8 in the quarter to grab a 33-29 halftime lead, with Orr pouring in 17 points over the opening 20 minutes.

The WolfPack had a solid start to the third quarter, leading 38-31 after five quick points from Anneke Cairnie, but the Cascades responded with a 16-0 run to change the complexion of the game entirely. Natalie Rather’s energy on defence and the boards fueled the UFV surge, and the third-year centre added five points during that stretch.

“Nat’s turned into a real presence for us,” Al Tuchscherer noted afterward. “We love her energy, we love her almost recklessness out there. She’s not afraid to put her body on the line. Her ability to rebound, take charges, and be everywhere, it’s huge for us when she’s playing that way.”

It was more of the same in the fourth quarter, as the Cascades pushed the lead beyond the 20-point mark.

Deanna Tuchscherer racked up a game-high 26 points to go with 12 rebounds, and Victoria Jacobse had a huge night as well. The versatile senior matched her career-high with 12 points, and came within a rebound of tying her career-high in that department as well, collecting 11 caroms for the double-double.

Rathler finished with nine points, seven boards and four assists, and Julia Tuchscherer had eight points and a team-best seven assists.

Orr’s 19 points were a team-high for TRU, and Danijela Kovacevic added 14.

Men’s Basketball: WolfPack claw back, edge Cascades 69-63

A big night from Brad King sparked the Thompson Rivers WolfPack to a 69-63 come-from-behind win over the University of the Fraser Valley men’s basketball team on Friday evening in Abbotsford.

King, the WolfPack’s 6’9” third-year centre from Australia, had a huge double-double (24 points, 14 rebounds), highlighted by 5-for-8 shooting from beyond the arc as TRU erased a 10-point third-quarter deficit.

The Cascades (2-3) look to get even with the WolfPack (3-2) on Saturday in their final home game prior to the Christmas break. Tip-off is at 5 p.m. at the UFV Athletic Centre.

“They’re a team that wants to keep it in the 60s, and they did a great job on the offensive glass creating multiple opportunities for themselves,” noted Cascades head coach Joe Enevoldson, alluding to the WolfPack’s 18 offensive rebounds on the night. “We didn’t do a good job of taking care of the defensive glass.”

Friday’s first half was closely contested, with the two teams deadlocked 18-18 at the end of the first quarter and UFV holding a modest 35-33 edge at the break.

The Cascades were able to create some separation in the third quarter, going on an 11-2 run highlighted by four points from Vick Toor to go up 46-37. Another 6-2 mini-surge, capped by a Zubair Seyed layup, pushed the margin to double digits at 54-44 with 1:38 left in the frame.

King ended the quarter with five straight points, though, including a pair of free throws to cap a possession where the WolfPack collected three offensive boards, to close the deficit to 54-49.

TRU would put together an 11-0 run early in the fourth to take control, with Simon Crossfield scoring eight straight points and King capping the run with a triple. The visitors would go on to outscore the Cascades 20-9 in the final frame.

Kyle Claggett (14 points), Toor (13 points, nine rebounds, four assists) and Jordyn Sekhon (10 points) scored in double figures for the Cascades, while Crossfield (17) and Brendan Sullivan (10) joined forces with King in leading the WolfPack offensively.

“We had a good little run there, but we sabotaged ourselves with a tech, and you can’t do that against anybody in this conference because quite frankly, they’ll beat you,” Enevoldson noted afterward.

“King is an older guy, really physical, and he did a great job on the offensive and defensive glass. He hit some timely threes for them, and our bigs have to do a better job guarding the three-point line. We’ll take a look at our three-point coverage and see what we’ve got to do differently.”

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