The UFV women’s volleyball team is seeking to defend the national championship they won last season. The PacWest regular season opens this weekend

The UFV women’s volleyball team is seeking to defend the national championship they won last season. The PacWest regular season opens this weekend

Cascades, Bearcats aiming high as PacWest volleyball season opens

Last season, Abbotsford was the focal point of collegiate women's volleyball in Canada.

Last season, Abbotsford was the focal point of collegiate women’s volleyball in Canada.

The University of the Fraser Valley Cascades won both the PacWest conference and Canadian Colleges Athletic Association (CCAA) titles, while their crosstown rivals, the Columbia Bible College Bearcats, won PacWest silver and made their first-ever appearance at nationals.

With the two teams set to clash this weekend to open the 2013-14 PacWest regular season, the question is, what do they do for an encore?

“For us, the biggest challenge is developing a new identity as a team,” said UFV head coach Dennis Bokenfohr. “We have to accomplish the same goals, but do it a little differently.”

Indeed, the Cascades will have a somewhat new look as they set about defending their national title. They waved goodbye to a trio of graduating starters – national player of the year Kayla Bruce, libero Brittany Stewart and outside hitter Katie Bilodeau – while Kira Tome, their outstanding setter, transferred to play at the University of Ottawa.

Nevertheless, Bokenfohr has a strong core of returnees as his disposal. Fifth-year standout Jenna Evans, the MVP of the national championship tournament, leads a veteran group which also features fellow left side Krista Hogewoning, middle Kierra Noot and right side Simone Hanson.

Leading the crop of newcomers is 6’0″ middle Emily Carroll, a fourth-year transfer from UBC-Okanagan.

“This year, with losing Kayla in the middle, we shift to being keyed a bit more on the outside,” Bokenfohr noted. “But there’s a lot of returning players who have that (national championship) taste already in their mouths, and they’re not about to realign their goals.”

The Bearcats, meanwhile, boast perhaps the most experienced squad they’ve ever had. Head coach Duncan Harrison has eight players from last year’s 10-member roster back in the fold, including six starters, and he’s supplemented that core with a stellar five-player recruiting class.

Key veterans include left side Sadie Ball, middle April Vaandrager and setter Anna Cupido, while Jodie Enns, an outside hitter from Saskatoon, figures to make the biggest impact among the rookies.

Last season, the CBC women upset the defending CCAA champs from Vancouver Island University in the PacWest semifinals to punch their ticket to nationals, and Harrison is hoping his squad takes another step forward this year.

“Our win against VIU, for those athletes, was a confirmation that absolutely, for sure, we can play at the highest level,” he said. “Now, can we transfer that into not just a match or two matches on a weekend, but can we play that way night in and night out?”

CBC, UFV MEN WILL BE MUCH IMPROVED

The volleyball rivalry between the Cascades and Bearcats was just as heated on the men’s side last season, though not at the same elite level.

UFV swept a pair of games vs. CBC on the final weekend of the regular season to leapfrog the Bearcats for the sixth and final PacWest playoff berth. The Cascades were eliminated in the provincial quarter-finals, though.

Both teams believe they’re poised for better things in 2013-14.

The Bearcats’ reasons for optimism stem largely from the return of two of their standouts from their national championship-winning squad of 2011. Outside hitter Will Quiring – MVP of the ’11 national tourney – and setter Jason Warkentin are back on campus after one-year absences.

They’re joined by key returnees Jadon Ward and Matt Lieuwen, and a strong crew of newcomers highlighted Leigh Goossen, a transfer from UBC-Okanagan, and rookies Jeremy Lieuwen (Matt’s younger brother), Brendan Folkerts and Taylor Klassen.

“Honestly, I’d say this team, through and through, is more talented than anything we had two and three years ago,” head coach Phil Wiens asserted. “There’s no question that the talent is there. We’ll see how it all comes together and how the guys bond. There’s a lot of factors in that, and a lot of volleyball to be played.”

The UFV men’s roster last season was laden with rookies, and head coach Greg Russell believes they’ll be better in 2013-14 simply based on the fact they’ve got a season under their belts.

Kurtis Stromdahl, Connor Nickel and Adam Chaplin are among a large group of returnees, while veteran Anthony Togeretz is back after a one-year absence and setter Ryan Thain has transferred in from Camosun College.

“We have a lot of the same guys back, and at the end of last season, we won our last four games in a row, so they were really starting to put it together,” Russell noted.

“It takes a while to learn how to carry yourself at the next level, and I think we came a long way in that department.”

RIVALRY RESUMES THIS WEEKEND

The Bearcats and Cascades volleyball programs reignite their rivalry with a home-and-home set this weekend. On Friday, the teams play at Columbia Place, with rematches set for Saturday at UFV’s Envision Athletic Centre (women 6 p.m., men 8 p.m. both nights).

“What better way to really gauge where you’re at than to play the defending national champs who also happen to be your crosstown rivals?” Harrison said. “Friday night by 8:00 we’re going to know whether we’re on the right path, or whether we need to go back to the drawing board and start over.”

Just Posted

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

A program of the Fraser Valley Health Care Foundation enables patients to thank their health-care workers.
Fraser Valley program enables patients to say thanks to their health-care workers

Philip Harris Grateful Patient Program offered through health care foundation

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
Webinar looks at sexual abuse prevention among adolescents

Vancouver/Fraser Valley CoSA hosts free online session on June 15

Emergency services were on the scene of an apparent stabbing Friday afternoon (June 11) in the 2400 block of Countess Street in Abbotsford. (Photo: Kaytlin Harrison)
Two suspects arrested after apparent stabbing in Abbotsford

Incident occurs Friday afternoon in 2400 block of Countess Street

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

Most Read