Spartans spoil the party as T-Birds celebrate Pride Night

A thunderous Pride Night crowd couldn’t boost the UBC Thunderbirds volleyball teams to wins Saturday night, with both dropping straight set decisions to the top ranked Trinity Western University (TWU) Spartans.

War Memorial Gymnasium was loud and proud right from the start, a packed house bolstering the women’s team as they took to the court. With the cheers at their backs, the T-Birds stormed out of the gate, snatching the initiative to take an early 7–1 lead. A brilliant block by Anna Price led to a Spartans timeout, the visiting side needing to regroup.

“I’m thankful for everyone who came out this weekend and whether we won or lost, we felt really loved and supported and I hope that [the] community did as well,” said T-Birds middle blocker Gabrielle Attieh after the game.

Play was tight between both teams in the first set.
Play was tight between both teams in the first set. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

However, the timeout helped the Spartans reset. Despite a ferocious Olivia Furlan ace to send UBC into the technical timeout with a 16–14 lead, it was the best team in the country that swung the momentum in their favour, taking the first set 25–21.

The second set began with both teams scrapping it out before TWU pulled out to a 11–5 lead, resulting in a UBC timeout. Much like the Spartans in the first set, the T-Birds came out of the timeout a new team, clawing their way back into the set with outside hitter Brynn Pasin coming off three consecutive points to bring the T-Birds’ level at 23–23 late in the second. But a missed spike in the end brought down the T-Birds, TWU coming out with the narrow 25–23 second set win.

The game was full of Pride Night festivities.
The game was full of Pride Night festivities. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

Just like the second set, the third began with teams trading points, UBC holding a narrow 9–8 advantage after a massive block by Pasin. The Spartans would go on a run, breaking the 20 point mark with a four-point cushion. A late push by the T-Birds brought it to 24–22 but TWU were able to close it out, taking the set 25–22 and the game three sets to none.

“We’ve got to have confidence in our ability to attack the ball in different zones more consistently. Some of this is just mentally our ability to play under control when another team is putting us under pressure,” said head coach Doug Reimer post-game.

The Spartans improve their Canada West leading record to 18–2 while the 7th placed Thunderbirds drop to 8–10 on the season after two back-to-back losses this weekend.

The women’s squad will look to rebound next week in their series against the University of Regina Cougars (2–16) at home.

Even the mascot took part in the fun.
Even the mascot took part in the fun. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

After losing their 10-game winning streak against the first-placed Trinity Western University in a close 3–2 game Friday night, the second-placed men’s team was out for vengeance on Pride Night, ready to bounce back in front of a roaring home crowd.

“I’m thankful that I get to represent this [night], [it was a] pretty electric atmosphere. It’s great to play in front of big crowds,” said outside hitter Coltyn Liu, who had eight kills and an ace in the game.

However, such intentions were thwarted in a forgettable first set, with TWU storming out of the gate, taking a 20–8 lead. The Spartans closed out the set with little trouble, the final score 25–9.

Entering the second set, it was critical for UBC to get their receiving and blocking game back on track in order to have a shot at winning.

They did just that and the second set was the definition of tight, with the teams pegging each other point after point.

A thunderous kill by Matt Neaves gave a slim 13–12 edge to the Thunderbirds, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

The Spartans took control in the first set and didn't yield much through the rest of the game.
The Spartans took control in the first set and didn't yield much through the rest of the game. Salomon Micko Benrimoh

However, the Spartans took a two-point lead at 16–14, tilting the set to their favour.

The T-Birds fought back hard, with strong kills by Neaves and Michael Dowhaniuk late in the set, but the Spartan’s momentum enabled them to close out the set at 25–23.

The beginning of the third set was air-tight. Kills from outside hitters Liu and Neaves were crucial to the uphill battle, yet the T-Birds found themselves trailing behind by the second half of the set.

The visiting Spartans powered through to a 25–18 victory, sweeping the Thunderbirds 3–0 in the game.

“It was tough for us to be aggressive coming into this match when they were playing so well, they really put us on our heels with really good serving and great block defense,” head coach Mike Hawkins commented post-game.

“[I] thought we answered well in the second and [it] kind of got away from us a bit in the third.”

Trinity Western brings its impressive nation-leading record to 17-1.

After two tough losses, UBC drops to 13–5, now sitting in third behind the University of Alberta Golden Bears (14–4). The T-Birds will try to get back to their winning ways against the UBC Okanagan Heat, who sit at the bottom of Canada West at 0–16, in Kelowna this weekend.