Thunderbirds lose in five-set marathon to Brandon

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BRANDON, Man. — The host Brandon Bobcats won a five-set marathon 3-2 (25-23, 20-25, 24-26, 25-16, 15-13) over the visiting UBC Thunderbirds Friday night at the Brandon University Healthy Living Centre.

“It was a tough match for the boys tonight,” said UBC head coach Richard Schick. “I thought we played well at times and executed very well at the things we had been working on in preparation for this weekend’s matches versus a tough Brandon team.

“Some untimely miscues on our side of the net gave Brandon opportunities which they capitalized on. Good teams make you pay and Brandon did just that. We have to continue to be patient but at the same time relish the opportunities that are in front of us and really come through when it counts. We had some really outstanding individual performances but unfortunately they didn’t translate into a team victory. I’m sure we’ve learned we have to be more solid in every aspect of the game to be successful.”

The two teams exchanged blows in a hard-fought first set that Brandon narrowly edged thanks to a 3-1 run to end the frame. The second set was all UBC as the Thunderbirds never trailed once in the set, taking it 25-20.

The third set was another tight one. UBC faced set point at 23-24 before rattling off three straight points to take the set 26-24 and get their first lead of the match at 2-1.

The Bobcats built some momentum in the fourth set and made quick work of the Thunderbirds winning the set 25-16.

The Thunderbirds worked hard to end the Bobcat’s run in the fifth set. Both teams exchanged leads until the Bobcats went on a three-point run making the game 14-12. The Thunderbirds served against match point at 13-14, but fifth-year middle and team captain Brendan White nabbed a kill to finish off the set and the match.

Sam Tuivai had a big night for the Bobcats with 19 kills, six digs, and five blocks. Sebastien Steigmeier added 14 kills, eight digs, and five blocks. Frank Jones notched 10 kills on just 15 swings, which earned him an impressive .533 attack percentage for the evening. Jones also nabbed eight blocks.

Ben Chow led the Thunderbirds with 18 kills and seven digs. Mac McNicol had 14 kills and five digs on the night.

The win brings Brandon’s record to 13-4 and UBC falls to 10-7.

Both teams will face off again Saturday night at the Healthy Living Centre, with the first serve at 4:45 p.m. PST.

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