T-Birds Five-Peat as Women Volleyball Champs

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UBC Thunderbirds

HAMILTON, Ont. (ISN) – The second-seeded University of British Columbia Thunderbirds extended their amazing streak to five consecutive CIS women’s volleyball titles on Sunday thanks to a come-from-behind 25-21, 15-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12 gold medal win over the No. 1 Alberta Pandas at McMaster University’s Burridge Gymnasium.

Championship web site: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/wvball/index

After topping the national rankings the entire season, the T-Birds entered the CIS tournament as the No. 2 seed following a five-set loss to the Pandas in last Saturday’s Canada West conference final.

With today’s triumph, UBC adds to its record overall total with a ninth CIS banner in the sport, two more than Alberta and Winnipeg. The victory also brings the T-Birds to within one of the all-time mark of six titles in a row, a record shared by the Pandas and Winnipeg.

It was the third time over their current run that the Thunderbirds were pushed to five sets in the national final. They edged Montreal and Calgary 3-2 in 2008 and 2009, respectively, before defeating Manitoba 3-1 in 2010 and Laval 3-0 a year ago.

For the Pandas, the silver medal is their best result at the CIS tournament since they captured their last title in 2007.

Lisa Barclay of Brandon, Man, was named UBC’s top player in the game and collected Tournament-MVP honours as she helped the T-Birds extend their championship dynasty. The second-year player registered 18.5 points on 12 kills, five service aces and 1.5 blocks.

“We just really knew that Alberta’s an amazing team and we had to take every point seriously. We’re not invincible,” said Barclay. “So we had to come out and play – we learned that last weekend. Coming out we really wanted this and fought really hard so I thought we deserved it in the end.”

Reigning CIS player of the year Kyla Richey of Roberts Creek, B.C., was neutralized by Alberta’s defence finishing with just eight points but defensively she held her own with 18 digs in the win. Shanice Marcelle of Victoria, B.C., also posted 18 digs and was named to the tournament all-star team.

UBC head coach Doug Reimer thought his team did well in staying close with Alberta, who in his mind outplayed the T-Birds for much of the match.

“We found away. I think of the first set as symbolic of the rest,” said Reimer “We were able to hang in there and turn things around. I couldn’t be prouder of this group. A lot of teams when they are getting it handed to them and when it’s not what you are excepting to happen… they kinda go away. We never did.”

Alberta’s Alena Omelchenko of Almaty, Kazakhstan, was the game’s most productive player registering 24 points with a game high 19 kills. She was a tournament all-star and Alberta’s player of the match. Erin Walsh of Edmonton was a main part of Alberta’s defence tallying 21 digs.

Walsh who played in her last day was disappointed that Alberta didn’t accomplish its goal of breaking UBC’s volleyball reign.

“It’s an accomplishment to get where we are, but I’m not feeling happy about it right now. Our goal was to win gold. It’s a great way to end a career and there are lots more good things to come [in my future], but unfortunately not what I wanted.”

Setter Brina Derksen-Bergen of Abbotsford, B.C. was credited with 27 assists in the win while her counterpart Jaki Ellis of Mississauga, Ont., recorded a game high 29 for Alberta. Both Derksen-Bergen and Ellis were named tournament all-stars.

The entire game was about momentum with UBC finding themselves down 10-6 early in the opening set. However patience paid off as the T-Birds stayed within striking distance. Down 20-16 they used a 9-1 run to pass the Pandas to take the initial set 25-21.

The second and third sets were all Alberta with the Panda’s opening on a 6-0 run in the second set and a 9-3 run in the third set. In both sets, Alberta never relinquished the lead and looked much stronger then the defending champion T-Birds. They neutralized the play of Richey and forced UBC to make errors.

Down 2-1, the Thunderbirds regrouped in the fourth set and eventually took the lead at 10-9. With the momentum on their side they used a 10-3 run to push the game to 22-14 which was too much for the Pandas to overcome after a late push handing the set to UBC at 25-20.

The deciding set saw UBC take control after the switch when they took the lead 8-7 – a lead they would never relinquish. The Thunderbirds collected five quick points and then pecked away to until the championship point at 15-12.

The University of Sherbrooke will host the 2013 CIS championship in Sherbrooke, Que.

NOTES: Rounding out the all-tournament team were Geneviève Plante from bronze medallist McGill and Montreal’s Marie-Sophie Nadeau… UBC’s Briana Liau Ken received the R.W Pugh Fair Play Award… Canada West teams have now won the last six CIS titles and 27 of the last 30 (including teams from the now defunct GPAC)… The team which took the opening point in each set ended up winning the set; UBC took the first point in the first, fourth and fifth set whereas Alberta registered the opening point in the second and third sets… Heading into today’s match, UBC and Alberta had split their previous four matches this season (2-2). They needed five sets in to decide the match in all but one of their five meetings this season.

 

STAT LEADERS

 

Boxscore: UBC-Alberta

UBC

Kills: Lisa Barclay (12)

Points: Lisa Barclay (18.5), Shanice Marcelle (10)

Blocks: Lisa Barclay (1.5)

Digs: Shanice Marcelle (18), Kyla Richey (18), Brina Derksen-Bergen (16)

Service aces: Lisa Barclay (5)

Assists: Brina Derksen-Bergen (27)

Player of the match: Lisa Barclay

Alberta

Kills: Alena Omelchenko (19)

Points: Alena Omelchenko (24), Jaki Ellis (12.5)

Blocks: Lia Stan (3), Jaki Ellis (1.5)

Digs: Erin Walsh (21), Whitney Matheson (19)

Service aces: Lia Stang (3)

Assists: Jaki Ellis (29), Alyssa Jones (14)

Player of the match: Alena Omelchenko

CHAMPIONSHIP ALL-STARS

Tournament MVP: Lisa Barclay, UBC

 

R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award: Briana Liau Ken, UBC

 

Tournament All-Stars:

Lisa Barclay, UBC

Shanice Marcelle, UBC

Brina Derksen-Bergen, UBC

Alena Omelchenko, Alberta

Jaki Ellis, Alberta

Geneviève Plante, McGill

Marie-Sophie Nadeau, Montreal

 

CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE & RESULTS

NOTE: Live webcast of all games on SSN Canada.

NOTE: Live broadcast of championship semifinals and Sunday games on Cable 14 (Hamilton).

Friday, March 2

13:00 Quarter-final #1: Montreal 3, Trinity Western 1 (25-22, 11-25, 25-21, 25-23)

15:00 Quarter-final #2: UBC 3, Queen’s 0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-16)

18:00 Quarter-final #3: McGill 3, Saint Mary’s 2 (26-24, 25-18, 20-25, 23-25, 15-13)

20:00 Quarter-final #4: Alberta 3, McMaster 1 (25-19, 25-15, 24-26, 25-18)

Saturday, March 3

13:00 Consolation #1: Trinity Western 3, Queen’s 0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-23)

15:00 Consolation #2: Saint Mary’s 3, McMaster 2 (24-26, 14-25, 25-9, 25-21, 15-7)

18:00 Semifinal #1: UBC 3, Montreal 1 (25-15, 20-25, 25-19, 25-22)

20:00 Semifinal #2: Alberta 3, McGill 0 (25-16, 25-16, 25-23)

Sunday, March 4

11:00 5th place: Trinity Western 3, Saint Mary’s 1 (25-22, 23-25, 25-21, 25-20)

13:00 Bronze medal: McGill 3, Montreal 1 (25-22, 13-25, 25-23, 25-15)

16:00 Championship final: UBC 3, Alberta 1 (25-21, 15-25, 19-25, 25-20, 15-12)

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