Scoops and Digs: UBC hopes this trip to Alberta won’t be its last of the season

This weekend, UBC heads to Calgary to take on the Dinos in the Canada West semi-final matchup. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the national tournament, hosted in Edmonton from March 15 to 17. Even with a loss, the Thunderbirds would get one more chance at a nationals berth in the Canada West bronze medal match the following weekend — the top three teams in the conference make the tournament.

After ending Regina’s 10-game win streak in their quarterfinal matchup last weekend, the ’Birds have themselves two weekends to lock up a nationals spot, though.

However, going to Calgary will be no easy task as the Dinos swept the ’Birds in the final weekend of regular season play. UBC, who were only able to muster one winning set in the two matches, needs to come out guns blazing if they want a chance at the 2019 Canada West title.

The Dinos (15-1) have had a reputation of punishing the visiting side on their home court this season, only giving up one game at Jack Simpson Gym. UBC had a regular season away record of 7-5, which put them in precarious playoff position with difficult games on the road.

The other Canada West semifinal series pits Trinity Western Spartans against the Alberta Pandas. These teams will face each other for the first time since early November, where the Spartans took both games convincingly.

Though UBC is the lowest-seeded team remaining in the playoffs, they have been hot in the second half of the season and will be a formidable opponent for whomever they face in either the gold or bronze game next weekend. Together, the team has found their cohesive stride through better integration of veteran and rookie players. The team has also stayed healthy in the back half of the season, allowing the starting line-up to find its stride. They are also spurred on by the continued, intimidating presence of team leading-scorer Kiera Van Ryk — she leads Canada West with 398 kills, averaging over 4.5 kills per set, and in serving aces per set with 0.77.

They were the only team to pull off an upset in the quarterfinal round and will look to repeat that same narrative this weekend in Calgary.

You can watch the games on Canada West TV Friday March 1 at 5 p.m., March 2 at 5 p.m. and if necessary, the tie-breaking game will be the 3 at 11 a.m.