The Women’s basketball team was the success story of the week with an amazing two game sweep of the Winnipeg Wesmen in the first round of the 2011 CIS playoffs. The seventh seeded Cascades (12-12) were expected to quickly fall to the Wesmen (20-4), yet defied expectations by reeling in two commanding victories, 77-63 and 77-64. UFV enjoyed strong play from Tessa Klassen, Sarah Wierks, and Aleisha Luyken.
The women are off to compete in the Canada West “Final Four” in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Whatever they place, it will be an impressive accomplishment for a team that has shown exceptional growth over the past year and continues to improve.
The team scraped into the CIS playoffs as the seventh seed, and was therefore required to play the dominant Trinity Western University squad in the first round. The Cascades were 10-14 on the season, while the TWU Spartans were riding a formidable 21-3 record that boded evil things for UFV’s chances of progressing, or even surviving until the third game in the best-of-three series. Yet last Thursday the Cascades, led by Zeon Gray and Joel Friesen, put on a show-stopping performance in front of a hostile crowd to steal game one 81-80 and put the fear of the Lord into TWU (Get it?).
The Spartans won the Friday and Saturday games 86-69 and 89-75 to take the series and eliminate UFV from the playoffs, but the Cascades were never far from enacting a massive upset over the team ranked fourth in the nation.
The team headed to Kelowna for the BCCAA Provincial Volleyball Championship last Thursday with an 8-6 record, good enough for the fourth playoff spot. They immediately added an impressive 3-0 drubbing of the Camosun College Chargers (25-18, 25-17, 25-20). Led by BCCAA all-stars Kayla Bruce and Brittany Stewart, the Cascades then faced the first-ranked UBC-O, but succumbed in three games (20-25, 17-25, 16-25).
The women played the Capilano University Blues in the bronze medal match, losing in four (28-26, 19-25, 23-25, 24-26) to end their season with a respectable fourth place finish.
The Cascades brought a 5-9 season record into the Kelowna tournament, landing them possession of the sixth and final playoff spot in the BCCAA.
Looking for redemption after a less-than-stellar season, the Cascades were hoping to reverse their momentum and earn a trip to the nationals in Quebec. They were also hoping for a little old-fashioned revenge against their third ranked rivals, the CBC Bearcats, whom they faced in the first round.
Unfortunately, revenge didn’t seem to be on the menu as UFV dropped three quick sets to CBC (23-25, 19-25, 19-25) and were consequently eliminated from the tournament. The Bearcats moved on to place second in the league, behind powerhouse UBC-O, having gained the unusual distinction of having swept the Cascades in three consecutive games.
On the bright side, UFV’s right side hitter Aaron Flanagan was named to the 2011 BCCAA second all-star team (rightly so) as one of the most formidable players in the league.