T-Birds clinch playoff spot with Friday win

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VANCOUVER – The No. 9 UBC Thunderbirds (12-11) defeated the visiting University of Regina Cougars (2-21) in straight sets Friday event to clinch a Canada West men’s volleyball postseason berth. The set scores were 25-16, 15-17 and 25-15.
 
UBC’s Ben Chow led his team in kills with 10, followed closely by his teammates Mac McNicol, Quentin Schmidt and Alex Russell, all of whom contributed eight. Ian Perry was a rock for the Thunderbirds with his 10 digs, as was Chris Howe who contributed a solo block and seven block assists to the defensive effort.

Setter Michael Corrigan contributed 18 assists for Regina while teammates Carter Howe, Matthew Lueck and Matthew Ferstl all had seven kills to their name.

A telling statistic from the match was the comparison between team blocks for UBC and Regina: the home side boasted a total of 14 while Regina had only one.

The win, combined with losses by Mt. Royal and Saskatchewan, clinched a playoff spot for the Thunderbirds.

UBC head coach Richard Schick says the preparation for tonight’s match was the same as any other.

We did our normal game prep this evening, just focusing on us and what we needed to accomplish out there,” explains Schick. “We’ve been looking to simplify our game lately, so that was a central focus for us.”

Whatever the plan, things could not have gone more smoothly for the hosts. In the first set, UBC never trailed, going on an uninterrupted 10-point streak part way through the set to bring the score up to 19-8. There was no coming back for the Cougars. Despite outscoring the Thunderbirds 8-6 the rest of the way, they succumbed to their hosts 25-16.
 
They fared better in the second. Despite getting a 2-0 lead over the Thunderbirds in the second set thanks to an ace by Matthew Lueck followed by an unforced error from UBC, the Cougars would once again find themselves trailing. After the technical timeout, the T-Birds took nine of the next 15 points to once again bury their guests. UBC carried this momentum into the third set and beat the Cougars by the biggest margin yet: 10 points.
 
Despite such a dominant performance from his squad tonight, Schick warns against getting complacent.

“We saw how quickly things can turn around last weekend,” he says, referring to the team’s remarkable comeback from getting beaten in straight set by the University of Calgary Dinos. The Thunderbirds turned around and did the same to their hosts the following evening. “If we don’t keep up our motivation at this point in the season, we don’t deserve to be there. We’ve got to stay focused.”
 
The Thunderbirds and the Cougars will clash again tomorrow evening in the regular season finale for both squads. Graduating senior players Quentin Schmidt, Chris Howe and Ian Perry will play their last Canada West games as Thunderbirds.
 
You can catch the action at 7 p.m. PT tomorrow evening at UBC’s War Memorial Gym.