Vancouver, BC – The UBC Thunderbirds women’s volleyball team will visit Kamloops this weekend to take on the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack.
UBC comes off a weekend of sweeps, defeating Mount Royal in straight sets both nights, and will look to continue the trend in Kamloops.
Fifth-year player Rosie Schlagintweit has been key for the Thunderbirds to start this season. She leads the team with 44 kills through four games this year.
“We have a bit of a younger team this year, and I’ve just been trying to bring my five years of experience to the court,” said Schlagintweit.
Third-year left side Danielle Brisebois follows close behind with 42 kills. Brisebois has started in all four of the Thunderbirds games of the season, but will not be accompanying the team to Kamloops this weekend due to a neck injury. Brisebois acknowledges that the team has been forced to overcome obstacles early in the season.
“We’ve had to adjust to a lot of changes, but people have been stepping up and taking on bigger roles,” she said.
One of these changes has been the absence of the reigning CIS Player of the Year Lisa Barclay. Barclay has yet to suit up for the Thunderbirds, and will not for at least several more weeks as she recovers from illness.
The absence of Barclay has allowed for a more offensive spread for the Thunderbirds, as players are forced into roles they wouldn’t normally find themselves in.
“It’s been a change for our team, there’s been a bit more even distribution of sets,” said Schlagintweit.
Second-year setter Alessandra Gentiles has been settling in to her starting position for the Thunderbirds, playing in every set thus far this season, and posting an average of 7.69 assists per set. Schlagintweit notes the team’s focus is on bringing a consistent energy to the court.
“As a team we’ve talked about our ideal performance state, and we don’t want to be a team that has huge highs and lows,” she said. “We want to be more of a stable team, emotionally.”
UBC opened up the season with two five-set losses to CIS newcomers MacEwan University, the first time since 2010 that the program had lost a season opener.
“It was a lesson to never underestimate the team you’re playing,” said Schlagintweit. “Two losses is never fun, but we’ve learned from it.”
Due to the addition of MacEwan into the league this season, conference play began several weeks prior to its traditional start date. Historically, the regular season has begun towards the latter end of October, giving teams more time to train and get comfortable.The Thunderbirds are 2-2 in conference play, and are ranked No.9 in the CIS. Brisebois is quick to note that rankings this early in the season are not necessarily indicative of the team’s skill level.
“I feel like [our ranking] doesn’t represent where we are yet,” said Brisebois. “There’s still so much time to left in the season; we’re not too worried about it.”
Thompson Rivers recorded a dismal 0-22 record last season, winning just one set along the way. This season they have come out far more competitive. Having pushed CIS no. 2 Trinity Western to five sets in the latter game of their opening series, the Wolfpack went on to win one of two games against CIS No. 6 Calgary.
Needless to say, Thompson Rivers is not a team to be taken lightly.
“They’re a completely different team [this year],” said Schlagintweit. “They’re high energy, and have been challenging some really good teams. We definitely can’t underestimate them.”
Friday’s game will commence at 6:00 pm while Saturday’s action begins at 5:00 pm at Thompson Rivers’ Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops. Games can be viewed via live webcast at canadawest.tv.