LANGLEY, British Columbia – After dropping a five-setter to the No. 5 ranked Trinity Western women’s volleyball team Friday night, the No. 1 UBC women’s volleyball team rallied Saturday with a convincing 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-23) win at the Langley Events Centre.
After eking out the first set 26-24, the T-Birds were nothing short of dominant in the second set, riding the strength of five aces from Shanice Marcelle en route to a 12-point win. In the third set, despite a valiant effort from the Spartans, UBC squeaked out a two-point win with a late push.
The loss drops Trinity Western to 13-7 on the season but the Spartans will host Calgary in a first round best-of-three playoff series Feb. 16th, 17th and, if necessary, 18th at the Langley Events Centre. With the win UBC improves to 18-2 on the season as they captured the Canada West regular season title and will host the Final Four Feb. 24-25.
Prior to Saturday, the Spartans had won 22 straight Canada West games at the Langley Events Centre, dating back to Jan. 15, 2010 when they lost to Regina.
The T-Birds were led by Kyla Richey, who had 12 kills, nine digs, a block and an ace, Marcelle, who had five kills, 11 digs, three blocks and seven aces – the latter of which ties her for the third most in a single match in Canada West history – and Lisa Barclay, who had seven kills, five digs and two blocks.
Trinity Western was led by Royal Richardson, who had 12 kills and five digs, Nicole Bazin, who had six kills, three blocks and two digs, and Kelci French, who had four kills, nine digs, three blocks and five assists.
“We’ve got to pass the ball in order to be successful,” said Spartans coach Ryan Hofer. “We can’t have the majority of our team hitting in the negative. We’ve got to be able to be aggressive with the ball, make UBC play the ball and find a way to pass their serve. I think we struggled a bit tonight and we’ll work on that and figure it out.
“I think we can take out of this game the fact that we need to come each and every night and compete. I think there were parts of tonight’s game when we competed and parts when we didn’t compete.”
Much like the set on Friday night, the opening stanza Saturday was a hotly contested on that was close from start to finish.
The Spartans took an early lead at 11-7 after a Nicole Bazin kill but it wasn’t to last. The T-Birds Marcelle got a kill to get UBC back to within three, and then she went to the serving line and promptly guided her team to the next four points, including back-to-back aces at one point, that gave the visitors a 12-11 lead.
After that it is was back and forth but UBC largely possessed a slight advantage. After a block from the T-Birds Barclay, UBC took its biggest lead of the set at 20-17.
While the Spartans battled back to make it 23-23 and then 24-24, thanks to three straight kills from Alicia Perrin, Trinity Western was never able to retake the lead. The T-Birds Richey earned a kill to make it 25-24 and then an attacking error by the Spartans gave UBC the set 26-24.
With nearly identical stats for both teams, it was Marcelle’s two aces that proved to be the statistical difference.
In the second set, the Spartans took a 3-0 lead but then Marcelle went to the serving line and completely took over.
After Rayel Quiring earned a kill to make it 3-1, Marcelle led the T-Birds on what would evolve into a 9-0 run that included five aces from Marcelle. It took a Royal Richardson kill to stop UBC’s run but by then Trinity Western was down 9-4 and were never able to recover.
The T-Birds continued to roll throughout the set as UBC outhit the Spartans .254 to .000 and took the set by a 12-point margin, 25-13.
In the fourth set, Trinity Western scored the first four points but UBC was not to be held down for long as the T-Birds scored four straight points themselves to knot the set 4-4.
However the Spartans kept up their pace as they built their lead back up to three points at 8-5.
But then, UBC got rolling. The T-Birds went on a 7-0 run that gave the visitors a three-point lead at 12-9 and kept playing the role of aggressor.
It was a see-saw battle from there with several ties and lead changes but UBC finally took the lead for good at 21-20. A couple of late kills from the Spartans Richardson kept it close down the stretch but ultimately the T-Birds hung on for the 25-23 win.
For Spartans setter Chelsea Hudson and libero Jodi Neufeld, it was their last regular season home game of their university careers.
Game Notes – TWU finished with a .088 hitting percentage while UBC was .168…UBC had seven blocks to TWU’s six…UBC had eight aces to TWU’s one.