Thunderbirds host winless UBC Okanagan this weekend

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Chris Howe


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Vancouver, BC  – The UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball team looks to continue its torrid early season play, sporting a 5-1 record, as the team welcomes the UBC Okanagan Heat to War Memorial Gym this weekend. UBC Okanagan enters the weekend seeking the team’s first victory of the season, currently with a 0-6 record, which puts them in a tie for last in the Canada West.
 
Winners of three straight, the UBC Thunderbirds sit in a tie for second in the Canada West, two points back of No. 1 ranked Alberta. The T-Birds are ranked No. 5 in the nation, and lead the country in kills (334) and digs (252) through the season’s first six games.
 
The Thunderbirds are coming off a pair of five set victories over Thompson Rivers University. UBC rallied from a 2-1 deficit in last Friday’s game before climbing out of a two set deficit on Saturday to extend the team’s winning streak to three games.
 
Getting four points this weekend will be crucial as the team’s schedule gets progressively harder as the season continues. Four of the team’s five victories have come against teams with zero wins on the season including MacEwan University and Thompson Rivers University. Beyond this weekend’s series, the Thunderbirds face teams with a combined .888 winning percentage leading up to the Christmas break. 
 
Since joining the Canada West, UBC Okanagan has historically split their regular season games against the Thunderbirds, going 3-3 since 2011. The Heat beat their sister school on both occasions last season, sweeping the season series.
 
The crux of the UBC team thus far has been fourth-year veteran and 2013-14 CIS First Team All-Canadian Ben Chow. He sits in fourth in the Canada West in kills (80) and second in digs (59)
 
Chow’s play was well complimented by Mac McNicol, who finished with a team-high 16 kills and six blocks last Saturday against Thompson Rivers University. McNicol had a crucial block to finish the fourth set on Saturday and ended the game on a kill to clinch the victory for the visiting Thunderbirds.  For his efforts, McNicol was named the Canada West Third Star for the week ending October 27 and sits in eighth in the Canada West with a .304 hitting percentage.
 
For the Heat, Jim Bell and Jeremy Fostvelt have, statistically speaking, been the team’s strong point as both sit in the top-five in a number of key offensive categories. Bell sits in fourth in kills per set with 3.70 while Fostvelt sits in third in digs per set (2.60) and total digs (52).
 
A year after finishing 4-18 on the season, the Heat still seek its first win, as well as its first road win since the 2012 season. UBCO has been shutout in sets on four of six occasions this season, and have yet to win more than one set in a single match. With that said, all three teams the Heat has faced so far this year have been ranked in the top five in the Canada West.
 
First serve on Friday night is set for 8:00 pm. while Saturday’s game will take place at 7:00 pm at War Memorial Gym.

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