VANCOUVER, BC – The latest installment of the UBC – UBCO rivalry was a 3-1 victory for the Thunderbirds on Saturday night in Vancouver’s War Memorial gym. Set scores were 25-18, 20-25, 25-17, and 25-15.

The Heat were held to 37 kills on a .057 hitting percentage through the match, while the Thunderbirds put away 41 on .148. UBC also held the edge in blocks (10-9), digs (44-38), service aces (15-3), and assists (37-36). The Heat only hit double digits in kills once, with 13 in the second set, while the Thunderbirds were only held to single digits once, with eight in the second set as well.

Danielle Brisebois was far and away the best hitter on Saturday night, putting away 16 kills on a .278 percentage. Behind her, Maggie Li and Laura MacTaggart each finished with eight and seven kills respectively. Li also had an exceptional five service aces in the match.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick led the Heat attack, putting away nine kills. Michelle Jakszuk and Megan Festival rounded out the top three hitters for UBCO, with seven and six kills respectively. Fitzpatrick and Samantha Patko led the match in digs, with 12, and Jakszuk was tied for the most blocks, as she and Li each finished with five total blocks.

The fourth set saw the UBC side at their most dominant, as they never allowed the Heat to string together more than two consecutive points. The Thunderbirds were able to string together runs of their own consistently, with a four-point run to stretch their lead to 10-5, then with back-to-back three-point runs to go up 17-10 and then 20-11. Li was able to put away her seventh kill to score the final point of the match.

The Heat earned their lone set victory in the second, thanks primarily to a seven-point run to come from down 13-14 to go up 19-14. That run involved a rare stretch of mistakes by the Thunderbirds, as four attack errors came amidst two Heat kills and a Kaitlynn Given service ace. Three kills and another service ace, this time from Skye Thompson, provided four of the final five points to close out the set win.

The first set saw the Heat jump out to an early lead, before the teams traded points and leads for the majority of the set. The key for UBC in the opening frame was being able to string together points, as they went on three- and four-point runs in the latter half of the set to pull ahead. Errors were an issue for the Heat in the first, and the final point for the T-Birds came on UBCO’s 11th of the frame.

The penultimate set was closely contested for the most part, as both teams were able to string together points thanks to efficient attacking. The big difference in the set was a pair of runs by UBC. The first came early on, when the ‘Birds put together six straight to take back the lead and go up 10-5. The second was the more impactful, as they strung together five points to take it 25-17.

The Heat (8-4) will play their next matches on the road again, this time travelling east to take on the University of Winnipeg Wesmen (1-11) on January 13 & 14. The UBC Thunderbirds (9-3) will play at home on those same days, when they host the Trinity Western Spartans (11-1).

~ Grayson Leahy // UBC Okanagan