Cougars rally to defeat Thunderbirds in five sets

Alex Russell

Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball team went down to the Mount Royal University Cougars in five sets Friday night at War Memorial Gym, suffering their first loss this season. The game was hotly contested the whole way through, with the sets going 25-21, 21-25, 14-25, 25-23, 16-14 in favour of the Cougars.

After trailing two sets to one, the Cougars were able to break through in the fourth set to extend the match. Tied at 23-23 Mount Royal got back to back kills from Jordan Parkin and Riley Friesen to win the set 25-23. It was the same situation in the fifth set. Deadlocked at 14, Parkin came through once again for the vistors finishing off the Thunderbirds with two straight kills to give the Cougars the victory and end his night with a game high 20 kills. Friesen had 19 kills of his own.

After a shaky opening set which the Cougars won 25-21, the Thunderbirds started to find their way in the second set jumping out to a 10-5 lead. However, the Cougars would claw back eventually tieing things up at 20-20. From there UBC took advantage of three attack errors from Mount Royal and a service ace from Alex Russell to win the set 25-21.

Things really looked up for the T-birds in the third set, where they dominated the Cougars and only allowed 14 points. Irvan Brar and Mac McNicol led the way with three kills each and the Thunderbirds looked poised to cruise to victory. However, the Cougars hung tight to win the fourth set and the fifth and deciding set as well.
“Passing was something that we struggled with tonight,” said Head Coach Richard Schick when asked what his team’s greatest challenge was this evening. “Mount Royal served the ball very aggressively, and they also got some floaters on us which put our passing off.” He noted that this would be the primary focus for improvement when the two teams meet up again tomorrow evening.
On a brighter note however, Schick said he was impressed with the performance of veteran players Russell and Chris Howe this evening, noting their consistent defensive success with blocking. Howe is fourth in the conference in blocks per set.
Other players who shone this evening included Brar who led the team with 16 kills. Brar is fourth in the conference with a hitting percentage of 0.392. Following close behind him were Ben Chow and McNicol, who had 13 and 11 kills respectively.
UBC, now 2-1, will face MRU (1-2) again tomorrow, again at 8 p.m. P.S.T. at UBC’s War Memorial Gym. You can also tune into the live stream at