Weekend preview: Huge home games for Cascades basketball, volleyball teams


Slider-bball-vballThe University of the Fraser Valley basketball and volleyball teams wrap up their first-semester schedules with a busy slate of home games this weekend.

The Cascades hoopsters host the MacEwan Griffins on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.) at the Envision Athletic Centre.

Just down the hall in the Student Activity Centre North Gym, the UFV volleyball squads take on the Camosun Chargers on Friday (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m.) and Saturday (women 1 p.m., men 3 p.m.).

• The Cascades men’s basketball team is looking to head into the Christmas break undefeated – they’re currently sporting a 6-0 record in Canada West regular season play, and they’re the conference’s last unbeaten team.

That distinction enabled head coach Adam Friesen’s squad to make its season debut in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) national rankings this week – they check in at No. 10.

“For our program to be in the top 10 means something,” said Friesen, whose team has won 20 consecutive Canada West regular season games dating back to last season. “Being in the CIS rankings for the last three or four years at some point shows some longevity and success in our program, which is great to see.”

Edmonton-based MacEwan, the Cascades’ opponent this week, is a first-year Canada West program, but they’re not performing like a typical expansion team. The Griffins men (3-3) are locked in a three-way tie for second place in the Explorers Division behind the front-running Cascades.

“They’re doing really well for a first-year team in the CIS,” Friesen said. “They’re making a name for themselves and having a great start.”

The Cascades’ extraordinarily balanced attack has six players averaging double-figure scoring, led by guard Kevon Parchment (13.3 points per game) and forward Nate Brown (12.7), while centre Jasper Moedt’s 10.2 rebounds per game rank third in Canada West.

• Likewise on the women’s side, the Griffins pose a stiff test for the Cascades.

Heading into the weekend, UFV and MacEwan have matching 4-2 records and sit tied for second in the Explorers Division.

“They’re coming in as a really talented team,” Cascades head coach Al Tuchscherer said. “They’ve won some big games this year right across the country. They’re a veteran team that’s had some tremendous success at the college level, and that’s clearly transferred to Canada West.”

The Cascades have been led this season by fifth-year centre Sarah Wierks, who sits second in Canada West scoring (19.3 points per game) and is tied for the lead in rebounding (13.7 boards per game). Other offensive standouts include Nataliia Gavryliuk (17.0 points per game) and Shayna Litman (11.0 points per game).

• The Cascades men’s volleyball team has an opportunity to make a statement against a Camosun Chargers squad that is just ahead of them in both the PacWest standings and the national rankings.

The Chargers are tied for second in the PacWest at 7-3 and are No. 12 in the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) national rankings. The Cascades, meanwhile, are fourth in the PacWest at 6-4 and are ranked No. 14 nationally.

Kurtis Stromdahl leads the Cascades in total offence per set, averaging 3.42 points which is good for 10th in the PacWest. UFV has four players in the top 10 in aces – Joel Kleingeltink (fifth, 0.54 per set), Robert Koenig (eighth, 0.43), Stromdahl (ninth, 0.42) and Adam Chaplin (10th, 0.37). Connor Nickel is eighth in the league in blocks with 0.63 per set, and Ryan Thain is ninth in digs at 1.90.

• The UFV women’s volleyballers also have a chance to make some hay in the standings against a Chargers team that sits directly in front of them.

Camosun is second in the PacWest at 8-2 and seventh in the CCAA national rankings, just ahead of the Cascades, who are third in the conference at 7-3 and ranked No. 9 in the nation.

The Cascades’ Michelle Zygmunt leads the PacWest in total offensive stats, accounting for 4.14 points per set, and also leads in aces (0.86) and sits second in kills (3.19). Kelly Robertson (3.41) and Katie Peacock (2.48) are eighth and 14th, respectively, on the PacWest total offence list, and other top performers include Emily Carroll (ninth in blocks per set, 0.58) and Amy Davidson (fourth in digs per set, 3.09).