The Thunderbirds started off strong in the first set, however they faced some adversity early on when fifth-year senior Rosie Schlagintweit succumbed to an injury early into the set. Battling back from this challenge, the T-Birds still managed to hang on, trading points with the Heat right up until the end, when timely kills by Lisa Barclay and Juliana Kaufmanis clinched the set for the 27-25. The Heat were down 14-10 and spent the rest of the set trying to catch up, finally levelling the score at 23-23 on kills by Breanna Beamish and Michelle Jakszuk.
Beamish and Jakszuk again got consecutive kills to give the visitors 7-3 lead to open the second set but UBC replied by winning 12 of the next 16 points to turn things around.
T-Bird Abbey Keeping got a kill to bring her team with within three points at 7-4. Then UBC won the next four points on her serve to take the lead 8-7. The hosts maintained control in the latter parts of the second set and got their biggest lead when Juliana Kaufmanis knocked down a kill to make it 22-15.
The stage was set for a Thunderbirds victory, but the Heat were not about to give in without a fight. The third set saw the visiting team go up to 13-6, thanks in part to two Chandler Proch service aces. At this point in the set, however, the T-Birds came back to life with an impressive streak brought on by a first-class service run by Kaufmanis, who was already leading the team in points. Thanks to a kill, three aces in a row and the support of her teammates, Kaufmanis helped the T-Birds win eight straight points to take the lead 14-13.
After a timeout by UBCO Okanagan following this remarkable run, however, the Heat regained their composure and managed to capture the set 25-18. Emily Oxland was subbed on for the Heat and they won four points in a row in the critical last moments of the set, pushing UBCO ahead 23-16. The set was clinched with an ace by third-year student Megan Festival, who was one of the three offensive leaders for the Heat, with 10 kills on the evening, along with Beamish and Katie Wuttunee.
Despite the UBCO performance in the third set, the T-Birds were able to put them away for the victory in the fourth. Another impressive streak at the end of the match thanks to Alessandra Gentile‘s consistent serve brought UBC from a narrow 20-18 lead all the way to victory. Gentile’s serves were complemented by combination some impressive offence from Barclay, who also combined with Keeping for some key blocks to seal the deal for UBC.
Head coach Doug Reimer was pleased with his team’s performance tonight, commenting that he was proud of his squad for battling back from a challenging first set.
“You know, it’s hard, we just got one of our fifth-years, Lisa (Barlcay), back from an injury and then we saw Rosie go down” he said. “But I think overall the team did a great job of rallying, and we got the chance to show off the depth of our bench tonight.”
Offensively, Kaufmanis led the Thunderbirds with 15 kills on the evening, followed closely by Barclay with 14. Abbey Keeping was the defensive powerhouse for UBC, coming up with 7 big blocks for her team tonight.
With tonight’s result, both UBC and UBCO own 4-3 records. Tomorrow’s rematch is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. PT at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.