UBC falls in another five-set thriller


VANCOUVER – The No. 7 UBC Thunderbirds took the Alberta Pandas, the nation’s top-ranked team, to five sets for the second straight night, but this time, the visitors were able to escape War Memorial Gym with a victory. The set scores on Saturday were 22-25, 25-20, 25-15, 23-25 and 15-11 in favour of the Pandas.
UBC (7-5) got a game-high 21 kills from Danielle Brisebois while Meg Casault recorded 19 for 9-3 Alberta. Josephine Doerfler chipped in with 14 kills for the Pandas.
Although the Birds’ split the series tonight, head coach Doug Reimer believes that “tonight was a good experience for our players.”
Particularly, he noted “being up 6-3 in the fifth set, I mean what more can you ask for.”
The T-Birds won six of the first nine points in the final set thanks in part to two kills from Brisebois and an ace from Abbey Keeping.
Despite winning the first eight points and leading at the switch with 8-7, UBC was unable to maintain their momentum and fell 11-15 giving the Pandas the final win.
Two kills from Casault and three UBC errors contributed to a 7-1 run in the fourth set that gave Alberta a 17-12 advantage. But the T-Birds replied with an 11-4 surge to re-take the lead at 23-21. Three of the final four kills in that run came courtesy of Laura MacTaggart, who entered the match when UBC was down 16-12. Brisebois provided the two kills necessary for the home side to finish off the fourth set at 25-23.
The Pandas set themselves up for success with wins in the second and third sets.
They jumped out to a 9-4 advantage to open the third set forcing the hosts to call a timeout. Coming out of the break, Brisebois knocked two kills to build some momentum for the T-Birds, who closed to within two points of Alberta at 16-14, only to see the Pandas reel off 10 of the next 12 to claim the set win.
Josephine Doerfler and Kacey Otto had two kills each in that set-ending run.
After the teams split the first 24 points of the second set, the Pandas surged ahead with a 6-1 spurt that gave them the separation needed to take the game.
UBC opened the match with a comeback win in the first set. Down 19-14, Kelsey Clarke followed up kills by Keeping and Alissa Coulter with four consecutive aces to push the T-Birds ahead 20-19. Alberta won the next point but the home side claimed five of the next seven to clinch the set.

“Alberta was playing very steady tonight,” said Reimer, whose team committed 28 attack errors and 12 service errors on Saturday night. “Unfortunately for us, our balance: the risk-reward was a bit off. There are times where we need to keep the ball in play and we’re not. Places like from the service line, passing, just basic things so that we don’t we have to make up for it. We’re just making too hard on ourselves.”  
For UBC, Keeping ended the night with nine kills while Coulter and Rosie Schlagintweit both recorded eight. MacTaggart had seven while Juliana Kaufmanis had 18 digs.
“Our steadiest player tonight was Juliana Kaufmanis.  She played very well in the libero position. In the fourth set, Laura MacTaggart coming in also really helped us,” added Reimer.
“Contributions from subs coming in really helped us. Almost all the people we brought in off the bench gave us positive sparks.  I think it’s something that bodes well for our team, moving forward making those contributions. I mean we’re making six subs almost every set.”
Reimer’s T-Birds hit the road next weekend to take on the Winnipeg Wesmen while the Pandas will enjoy a bye.