T-Birds fly past the Heat in four sets


VANCOUVER – The No. 5 UBC Thunderbirds won their fourth straight Canada West men’s volleyball match with a four-set triumph over the visiting UBC Okanagan Heat on Halloween night at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.

The set scores were 25-23, 25-15, 19-25 and 25-21.

Mac McNicol and Irvan Brar each gave UBC 14 kills while Jarrid Ireland chipped in with 11. Jim Bell of UBC Okanagan led all players with 18 kills.

Two McNicol kills along with one from Brar and Chris Howe helped UBC to an 8-2 lead in the fourth set but that margin was diminished as the Heat rolled off a 5-1 run to close to within two points at 15-13. A kill from Bell tied the set at 17-17 but the T-Birds replied. A kill from Brar and a service ace from Howe helped UBC regain the lead and was part of an 8-4 finish by the home team that clinched the victory. The final kill came from Ireland.

UBCO had extended the match by claiming the third set, which the hosts led 6-3 early on. However, Lars Bornemann knocked down a kill to start a 5-0 run to help the Heat take the lead 8-6. Kristof Schlagintweit provided the assist on the kill and then went back to serve. His two aces were part of four consecutive points the Heat won on his serve.

Despite the slim two-point advantage, UBCO didn’t trail again in the third set. While UBC tied the proceedings at 11-11 with a McNicol kill, the Heat pushed back with an 8-3 run, which was again capped off by a Schlagintweit ace. The teams traded points from there and UBCO finished off with a Joshua Harvey kill.

The second set also began as a tight, back-and-forth battle as Bell’s kill tied the score at nine points apiece. But the Thunderbirds took control with a pair of 8-2 surges to cap off a dominant set. In the first run, Brar had three kills while in the second run, Howe and Milan Nikic provided a solo block and a block assist each. Nikic ended the night with 38 assists as well.
The opening game was close from beginning to end. UBC gained a bit of separation late going on a 4-0 run to take a 20-16 lead, but a Harvey kill and an Alex Swiatlowski service ace started a 6-2 UBCO streak that knotted things up 22-22. A McNicol kill that rolled along net and fell inside the sideline put the Thunderbirds a set point at 24-22. The Heat’s Bornemann saved one set point with a kill but Brar gave UBC the win with a big kill of his own, his fifth of the set. Ireland also had five kills. The Thunderbirds won three of the final four points to take the set.

UBC is now 6-1 after the victory while UBCO remains winless at 0-7. The teams face off again on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.