The UBC men's volleyball team decimated the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday, January 20 in three straight sets, with set scores at 25-21, 25-17 and 25-19.
UBC got on the board first as outside hitter Irvan Brar spiked the ball just inside Mount Royal’s baseline. Setter Byron Keturakis followed up the initial kill with four serves, ending in four consecutive points for the ’Birds. UBC won the ball back quickly after that, as Keturakis played a tricky tip to first-year middle Jordan Deshane who smashed the ball just over the net to take the ’Birds to 6-1.
Minutes later, a similar play from Keturakis set up outside hitter Mat Guidi, who blasted the ball into Mount Royal's end.
Mid-set, Cam Fennema sent the ’Birds on the home stretch for the set, putting them up to 18-11 with a hard spike down the length of the net and into the Cougars' front zone. He followed the play up shortly after, with a nifty tip over Mount Royal's front row to take the score to 19-12 in UBC’s favour.
The ’Birds stayed well ahead for the rest of the set, winning 25-21 with Fennema notching the final kill.
The second set proved even more dominating for the T-Birds.
As in the first set, Keturakis started the ’Birds off with four of his serves ending in points for the home side. After a time out to regroup for Mount Royal, Keturakis again defeated the visitors with two serves before the Cougars found their footing.
Throughout the set, the Cougars didn’t get closer than four points away from the T-Birds. Some more creative play from the home side proved difficult to compete with for the visitors.
Keturakis was, as always, an essential player in the ’Birds front line. In scoring their 14th point of the set, it was Keturakis who made the initial look to spike and instead set up Jordan Deshane for the kill.
In the closing points of the set, the Cougars started an onslaught of heavy hits, trying to force the ball through UBC’s defensive wall. Cougars’ outside hitter Lachie Pollock was among those pushing to break UBC’s defence, as he smashed the ball across the net. UBC’s Joel Regehr put up the huge block, putting the ’Birds ahead 23-17.
Another two points for UBC sealed the deal in the second, as they won 25-17.
The third set was the closest of them all, as Mount Royal tightened their defensive tactics and made more creative attacking drives. As the teams exchanged serves, Mount Royal made the first big play to earn their 12th point. With setter Tanner Greves popping the ball up at the net, middle hitter Josh Kirkham smashed the ball into UBC’s back court. With the play, the visitors held a two-point marginal lead at 12-10.
Their strength up front would be no match for the T-Birds though, as the home team turned it back on to end the match.
Keturakis again showed his prowess on the front line to put UBC ahead by five with match-point nearing. As he looked to be setting up a teammate, he instead exploited the empty space on the Cougars' side of the court, twisting his hands and tipping the ball into their front court to take the score to 23-18.
The Thunderbirds would eventually win the set 25-19, taking Friday’s match in a clean sweep of the Cougars.
On Saturday night, the match was a lot closer, as the sides played out all five sets.
UBC took the first, winning 25-20, but the Cougars fought back to take the second and third, 26-24 and 25-17 respectively. In the fourth, UBC reversed the third set score line, taking it 25-17 and sending the teams into a fifth set.
In the end, the ’Birds managed to pull out the win, taking the fifth set 15-11.
Irvan Brar led the T-Birds in kills on Saturday night, with 23 overall. The previous evening, the Surrey native was honoured with a scholarship for his contribution to volleyball in his community.
In support, Keturakis had 42 assists on the night. He leads the team with an impressive 615 assists so far this season.
Moving towards the top of the table, the ’Birds head to Calgary next weekend to face the ninth-placed University of Calgary Dinos. Following those matches, the T-Birds head back to War Memorial Gym for back-to-back matches against the Regina Cougars on February 10 and 11.