Winnipeg, MB – Alissa Coulter, Rosie Schlagintweit, and Danielle Brisebois earned a combined 43 of the UBC Thunderbirds 62 kills on Saturday night in a four-set win (25-22, 19-25, 25-21, 25-22) over the University of Manitoba Bisons, ensuring a split of the weekend series.
“Tonight we played like we were in control,” said Coulter. “The biggest difference was our passing – it let us run a smart and efficient offense.”
After committing 38 attacking errors on Friday night, the Thunderbirds were able to limit unforced errors and attack at an efficiency of 30% in Saturday’s match, compared to 13% in the night previous. The play of the three UBC outside players was instrumental to the outcome of the match.
Coulter, a fourth-year left-side from Calgary, has become a staple in UBC’s offence this season – her 17 kills marking the second consecutive match she has led the Thunderbirds in scoring.
“Our middles had a great game tonight,” she said. “They held their blockers and gave us [outsides] a lot of seams and one-on-ones.”
Schlagintweit and Brisebois provided 14 and 12 kills, respectively, and did so with minimal errors and high efficiency.
“A very solid win in many respecits,” said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. “We had strong contributions from many players and I was very pleased with our offensive flow which stemmed from better passing and good balance.”
Despite trailing at each of the first three technical timeouts, UBC was able to take a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth set. A large part of UBC’s success towards the end of the first and third sets was the serving of rookie Samantha Patko. Patko was used as a serving substitution in every set, and earned several runs at key moments in the match.
The fourth set saw the Thunderbirds take control early, where they would maintain composure through Manitoba’s final efforts.
“We were more focused [tonight], especially with trying to make adaptations as the game progressed – things like serving locations strategically and keying on hitters,” said third-year left-side Juliana Kaufmanis. Kaufmanis started the game for the Thunderbirds, but was replaced by Brisebois midway through the second set.
UBC was able to limit the effect of Manitoba’s right-side Rachel Cockrell. Although Cockrell still tallied 11 kills, the Thunderbirds forced Manitoba into a position where other players would be required to elevate their play, which they were unable to do. Cockrell was the only Bison player to amass kills in the double digits, although middle Jordana Milne was close with nine kills.
“We didn’t play as well tonight as we wanted,” said Manitoba’s setter Brittany Habing. “We struggled in our passing, and that was the biggest difference in tonight’s game.”
Manitoba drops to 4-6, nonetheless earning a hard-fought split of the weekend series.
Though far from a flawless game for the Thunderbirds, they were able to do what was needed to earn the victory throughout the latter stages of sets.
“It’s nice to be able to win even when everything didn’t go perfectly,” said Kaufmanis. “It’s motivation to push through hurdles mid-game and continually strive for the better.”
The Thunderbirds are now 6-4 on the season, good for third in a competitive Canada West conference. They will host the top ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears in a weekend series next weekend at War Memorial Gymnasium.