Vancouver, BC – The No. 7 ranked UBC Thunderbirds will host the No. 3 ranked Trinity Western University Spartans this upcoming weekend in a Canada West regular season weekend series. Friday and Saturday matches will initiate at 8:00 pm and 7:00 pm, respectively, within Vancouver’s War Memorial Gymnasium.
UBC began the 2015 segment of the Canada West regular season with two five-set losses to the nation’s fourth ranked Brandon Bobcats, leaving the province of Manitoba with a 10-8 conference record.
Fourth-year left-side Ben Chow led the Thunderbirds in both games against Brandon with 33 total kills on an impressive 41% attack efficiency.
“There were a lot of things we did well [against Brandon], but just down the stretch we didn’t do what we needed to do,” said Chow.
The Thunderbirds lost both fifth sets against the Bobcats by a score of 15-13.
“We have a lot of weapons, and it showed this [past] weekend,” said Chow, a CIS First Team All-Star last season. “Moving forward, the only thing we can focus on is getting better every game.”
Third-year Mac McNicol has settled into a starting right-side role with the Thunderbirds, averaging 3.14 kills per set in conference play. His 242 kills on the season place him atop the Thunderbirds leaderboard and sixth in the conference.
The visiting Spartans have won seven straight matches dating back to 2014, and opened the New Year with four victories against the league’s bottom teams in Regina and MacEwan. They hold a regular season record of 14-4, placing them third in Canda West standings.
“They’re a big team with a solid block, and are pretty disciplined,” said Chow of the Spartans. “We’re definitely going to have go in aggressive, but play it smart at the same time.”
This weekend marks the second last weekend that middle Chris Howe, libero Ian Perry, and left-side Quentin Schmidt will play regular season games in UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium. UBC’s three fifth-years will lead the team to Calgary before returning home to finish the Canada West regular season with a series against Regina the weekend of February 6th and 7th. Canada West playoffs begin the following weekend of February 13th-15th.
“The league is tight right now for us middle-packers, it could go any way,” said Chow of Canada West standings heading into the playoffs. The Thunderbirds currently sit tied for sixth, where only seven teams make playoffs. However, they are only two wins behind the fourth place University of Winnipeg who have now lost three straight.
“Every game is huge for us, and that’s the way we’re looking at it,” said Chow. “I think if we look at it as a do-or-die situation every night for the next three weekends, that sense of urgency will be there and it will work out in our favour.”
UBC last defeated Trinity Western in Canada West play to open the 2012-2013 regular season – the last time the two teams met in War Memorial Gymnasium.
“I think that we match up pretty well against them,” said Chow. “They’re a good team, and it’s going to be a battle.”
Friday’s match will begin at 8:00 pm followed by a 7:00 pm start time on Saturday, both games succeeding the culmination of women’s games of the same matchup in UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium.