Winnipeg Manitoba – The UBC men’s volleyball team defeated the Manitoba Bisons in the first match of the best-of three Canada West quarter-finals this evening in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The marathon match went the distance, 25-21, 22-25, 22-25, 22-14 and 15-10 in favour of the visiting Thunderbirds. 

“I thought our experience came through in the end,” said UBC head coach Richard Schick. “We played pretty consistent throughout the night but Manitoba pushed harder than us at key times at the end of second and third sets. We didn’t play our best at times, but we never lost sight of what we wanted. We kept our composure and earned the win.”

The first set was neck and neck with the the two teams barely ever straying from more than one point from one another. This continued right up until the last minutes of the set when Manitoba managed to finally break into a 2-point lead over their guests. UBC called a timeout, at which point veteran Chris Howe led the team to take six of the next seven points to clinch the first set 25-21. Howe was involved in five out of the six points with four blocks and a kill.

The next set followed much the same pattern, however this time it was the hosts who managed to pull off the win. The two teams kept things extremely close, until the Bison managed to edge ahead by three points to make the score 19-16. The thunderbirds battled back to tie the set at 19-19, but could not keep up as they only managed to score two more points compared to the six scored by their opponents. At one set apiece, it was clear that neither team was going down without a fight. 

With the Bisons taking the third set as well, the momentum appeared to be in their favour. Luckily the Thunderbirds came out ready to dazzle their hosts with an explosive performance in the fourth set which set UBC up for victory. Defeating the bison 25-14, they had the Bisons back on their heels heading into the pivotal final set.

The two teams were not evenly matched for long as UBC led for most of the fifth. After the 3-3 mark, the T-Birds kicked into overdrive and took four of the next six points. A timeout from Manitoba could not stop the onslaught from UBC. With their eye on the prize, they continued to drive towards the 15-10 victory. 

“Our guys definitely got better as the night went on,” said Schick. “We’ll have to be better from the start tomorrow.”

UBC’s offensive stars this evening were undoubtedly veterans Quentin Schmidt and Ben Chow, who threw down 19 and 18 kills respectively for their team this evening. Chris Howe also had a big night for his team, throwing up 10 blocks throughout the course of the evening. 

For their part, the Bisons had a strong offensive showing. Devren Dear had a huge night with his 23 kills, and his teammate Adam DeJonckheere contributed 17 to their team’s losing cause. Dear and DeJonckheere were also a key part of the defensive effort. They made 14 and 10 digs respectively.

The two teams will face each other again on Saturday at 5:00 pm (PT) for game two of the Canada West quarter-finals in this best of three weekend.

You can catch the action streaming live at canadawest.tv.

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