VANCOUVER – The No. 4 ranked UBC Thunderbirds earned its ninth win of the season defeating No.7 ranked University of Winnipeg 3-1 (12-25, 25-20, 25-17, 25-23) Friday night at War Memorial Gym.
After a disappointing opening set, the Thunderbirds got it together and won three straight sets to earn the victory and improve to 9-4 on the season. It was just the third loss of the season for the Wesmen who are now 8-3.
“After the first set, it was marginally better on both sides, but I think the difference was maybe just a bit of consistency down the stretch,” said UBC head coach Richard Schick.
Winnipeg cruised through the opening set, taking advantage of eight attack errors from UBC. Tom Douglas-Powell finished off the set with a kill and a service ace for a 25-12 victory.
UBC shook off the first set quickly and led the whole way in the second set. They were up 16-12 at the technical timeout. Winnipeg got within two, 21-19, but Ben Chow, back after missing the last six games due to injury, put the game away with one of his eight kills on the evening.
The Thunderbirds continued to roll in the third set. With the set tied at 7-7, UBC went on a run to lead 16-12 and eventually win 25-17. Jarrid Ireland was key to UBC’s success with four kills in the set. A Chris Howe block on Douglas-Powell sealed the win for UBC.
This match seemed destined for a fifth set when Winnipeg jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the fourth set, but UBC would claw back, tying it up at 11-11. However, again the Wesmen would go up by five, 19-14. With the opportunity to extend the match the Wesmen felt the pressure making three attack errors in the final moments and eventually the Thunderbirds would win the set on a service error from Matthew Dueck. 25-23 was the final.
One of the keys tonight for UBC was their blocking up front led by Russell and Howe, who had seven and six block respectively in the game.
“We consider ourselves a tough defensive team on the net and we’re constantly looking to improve on that… today we did,” said Schick.”
Douglas-Powell led the visitors with 15 kills, while Casey Schouten chipped in with 14 kills of his own.
“I think that tonight we got away with one,” said Schick. “We weren’t playing great, but it was a win. I expect that they will be playing much better tomorrow night.”
The Thunderbirds and Wesmen wrap up the two-game weekend series tomorrow evening at 7:00 pm at War Memorial Gym.