VANCOUVER – The No. 9 UBC Thunderbirds and the No. 5 Trinity Western Spartans women’s teams put on a thoroughly entertaining display of volleyball on Friday night at UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium, with the home side emerging as victors in five sets (25-19, 19-25,25-17, 34-36, and 15-13).
With the win, UBC improves to 11-8 and remains in sixth place in the league standings. TWU maintains its third-place status with a record of 14-5.
“If you look at the whole season for us, to win in five and to do it on Friday night is something that has been a rarity,” said UBC head coach Doug Reimer, whose team is 3-6 on Friday nights during regular season play so far this year.
“I just think that was huge for our team, not just to win but I think we got a lot out of that match. There was good learning going on. We’ve grown a lot as a group since before Christmas and you can see that in both the team and in individual development. It’s a really positive sign confidence wise.”
After a hard-fought battle tonight, UBC’s Lisa Barclay lead the offence on both sides of the court with 20 kills, eight digs, and three blocks. Teammate Danielle Brisebois finished the evening with 18 kills, 10 digs, and three blocks. UBC’s setter Alessandra Gentille had 63 assists.
“I thought we did well in. Emily Cicon did a really good job. It shows in her stats and she got lots of great touches,” said Reimer. Cicon finished Friday night with 11 block assists and one solo block.
“We got contributions from our subs coming through the back row and providing good defence and passing. For a second week in a row, Alessandra Gentile did a good job and provided very good all-around play.
On the other side of the net, TWU was lead by senior middle blocker Alicia Perrin, who finished with 17 kills and six blocks.
The two squads evenly split the first 12 points of fifth-and-deciding set. Thanks in part to two kills from Barclay and one from Abbey Keeping, UBC opened up a 10-6 lead. But TWU chipped away at its deficit. Perrin and Sophie Carpentier provided two kills each down the stretch to go along with a couple of service errors from the Thunderbirds to close the gap to a single point at 14-13. The comeback ultimately fell short as Brisebois closed the proceedings with a kill off the block on the very next point to give her team the win.
The Spartans were hoping the fifth set would follow the pattern of the fourth, which saw them battle back from a late deficit to win.
UBC jumped out to an 11-5 lead thanks to seven straight points on Barclay’s serve. With Barclay back on the line, Brisebois recorded a kill to put the Thunderbirds up 22-17. But the Spartans claimed the next four points and then tied the match at 24-24 on a service from the hosts.
The two teams battled back and forth as UBC was unable to convert on four match points while TWU didn’t finish off the set until its fifth set point opportunity.
Royal Richardson extended the match with a kill to tie the set at 26-26. Teammate Elizabeth Wendel then served an ace to put TWU up 27-26 but Barclay recorded a kill for UBC on the next point.
Brisebois’ kill put the ‘Birds ahead 29-28 but Perrin responded for the visitors with one of her own on the next play. With UBC down 31-30, Abbey Keeping came through and tied things up with a kill.
Richardson put TWU 34-33 but Barclay replied to tie the set for the 15th time. After an attack error from the ‘Birds, Perrin and Vanessa Cornwall came up with a combination block on the ensuing point to finally end the set at 36-34.
After splitting the first two games of the match 1-1, the ‘Birds responded in the third set by jumping out to an 8-3 advantage. They held the Spartans at bay for most of the set, and then claimed four of the last five points to win and take a 2-1 lead.
The rematch will take place on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.