Thunderbirds upset No. 1-ranked Pandas in five sets

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VANCOUVER – The No. 7 University of British Columbia women’s volleyball team came out the victors Friday night after a rollercoaster five set match against the No. 1 ranked University of Alberta Pandas, winning 26-24, 9-25, 27-25, 23-25, and 15-9.

UBC improves to 7-4 on the season, while Alberta falls to 8-3.

Both teams battled hard tonight, trading the lead often, with the exception of the second set. UBC won the first set 27-25, Alberta easily won the second set 25-9, the Thunderbirds responded with a 27-25 victory in the third set and then the Pandas rallied for a 25-23 victory in the fourth set to send the game to a fifth and deciding set.  

After letting a late lead slip away in the fourth set, UBC responded early in the fifth set with Alissa Coulter serving up an ace to start things off marking a momentum change in favour of the ‘Birds. UBC was on the attack and ready for the final win tonight.  As play continued, the crowd witnessed some of the longest and most epic rallies of the night. Women from both sides of the net were throwing their bodies around refusing to let the ball drop. Notably, Juliana Kaufmanis took authority in the back row for UBC as libero and covered the holes making it difficult for Alberta to come away with strong kills in the fifth. The Birds’ were on a race for the lead at the switch and were up 8-4 after another booming Rosie Schlagintweit kill.  

Although Alberta would close the gap to 10-7, UBC responded by hammering the ball back at the Pandas winning their final four points of the match off kills. Both Abbey Keeping‘s quick attacks through the middle, and Danielle Brisebois‘ attack from the outside sent the ball to the hole and gave UBC 15-9 victory in the decisive set.

The Pandas boast impressive net coverage making it difficult for most teams to find the holes and swing away on the attack. Despite this, the Birds’ refused to shy away tonight and threw a variety of attacks at the Pandas, who were often caught sitting on the backs of their heels and unable to respond. UBC’s Brisebois gave the crowd something to cheer about making some of the hardest hits of the night, as well as leading the Thunderbirds in kills with 19 tonight.  

 “I was able to work with the block tonight and work around it,” said Brisebois. “They didn’t close a lot so I was able to go through the seam, which helped a lot with my attack.”  

Brisebois also commented on the teams performance resillency this evening.

“When we’re aggressive, ready to play, and wanting it, we can really excel as a team.  Although the second set didn’t go so well for us, we were able to get back into that aggressive mindset and pick it back up which was really great for our team.” 

 

Tonight, Alberta was led by Josephine Doerfler with 16 kills, followed by teammate Meg Casault with 12.  


UBC will return to action tomorrow night hoping to add another win to their tally against the Pandas at 5:00 pm in War Memorial Gym.  

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