Vancouver, BC – The UBC women’s volleyball team travels to Edmonton for the Canada West Final Four this week. This evening, the Thunderbirds will take on the University of Alberta Pandas in the Canada West Semi Final. The Pandas are the top seed after finishing first during the regular season. UBC, who finished in fifth place, will then face either Trinity Western University or UBC Okanagan for the gold medal or bronze medal game, depending on the outcome of the U of A match-up. The top three teams to come out of the Final Four will advance to CIS Nationals next weekend in Toronto.
The Thunderbirds have had mixed success against the Pandas this year. They defeated them in a pre-season tournament in September, and went on to have a split weekend with them in November during regular season play.
“Alberta is a very solid team and when they are rolling they are going to make life tough for us,” says UBC head coach Douglas Reimer. “We have to play assertively and take the game to them for the majority of the time if we want scoreboard success.”
The Pandas have a deep bench, with talent on both offense and defense. On the offensive side, Meg Casault has been a huge asset to the team and boasts the third highest number of kills in the league with 316 throughout the regular season. Setter Mariah Walsh also has an impressive record with an average of 9.16 assists per set. On defense the team will look to Jessie Niles, ranked third in the conference for digs per set.
Luckily, the Thunderbirds will be ready to fight fire with fire as they come into Final Four with a star studded line-up of their own. Danielle Brisebois, who has been named a Canada West All-Star, has led the team with her impressive hitting this season. Rosie Schlagintweit has also been a tour de force and is the featured Thunderbirds Athlete of the week thanks to her stunning performance in the team’s sweep of the University of Calgary Dinos last weekend. Schlagintweit had a hitting percentage of 0.422 and also recorded 10 block assists and 21 digs over the course of those two matches. The Thunderbirds will look to her to continue that hot streak.
With six consecutive CIS championships under their belts from 2008-2013, and a trip to finals last year which concluded in a loss to the University of Manitoba, the T-birds are no strangers to success in the Final Four.
“There is no doubt that we have a number of players that are comfortable in the Final Four environment,” says Reimer. “I think that is helpful for us to hopefully maintain composure and also know why we want to push through to get back to the National Championships.”
The actions starts this evening at 5:00 pm PT. The gold medal game is set for Friday at 7:30 PT, while the bronze medal game will be played at 3:30 pm PT.