After their first victory of the pre-season over UBC Okanagan (UBCO), the men’s volleyball team showed their strength once again on Thursday, taking down the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) WolfPack in straight sets (25-19, 25-22 and 25-15 in each respective game).
To compete with the best of the WolfPack’s roster in the tight series, UBC kept the same starting line-up for every set with few substitutions.
Senior right side Mat Guidi connected well with teammate Irvan Brar; together, the two team veterans led the attack for the ’Birds. Overall, they contributed 16 kills — half of the T-Birds’ total that night.
Fourth-year setter Byron Keturakis also continued his longstanding power presence at War Memorial Gym with 21 assists. Last season, the 6-foot-8 Surrey native notched 1,167 assists for the T-Birds.
Overall, UBC’s collaboration on the court successfully suppressed the opponent’s attack, widening the gap set by set before finally taking down the WolfPack 25-15 to seal their fate.
Not only was Thursday the first home game of the 2017/18 season, it also marked the return and first appearances of several members of the team. Ben Chow, the former outside hitter who has been sidelined for two years due to a severe ankle injury, is now back to the team as a libero with the Thunderbirds.
Even though the change in position might be a bit challenging, to him the experience was more about “[getting] back to the field and play the sport I love.”
“It’s great to be back,” said Chow.
On the other hand, talented first-year middle Fynn McCarthy’s first showing brought new life to the team. McCarthy spent the summer with the junior national team. Now at UBC, he said, “it’s great playing with the veterans, they really teach me a lot.”
With the seasoned veterans still on board and some great recruits to the ’Birds program, there is much to be expected from men’s volleyball this season. “We definitely have some high expectations on ourselves and we’re holding ourselves to a higher standard,” said head coach Kerry MacDonald.
“It’s early in the season for us, there’s still lots we want to get better at,” he said. “But I’m happy with our level of performance ... and I’m happy with our guys’ responses to the game — they really took this seriously.”
The men’s volleyball team will play against the UBCO Heat on October 20 for their first official game of the season.