The UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball team didn’t have the perfect set of games over the weekend. Still, they emerged as the victors in their Canada West quarter-final encounter against the Brandon University Bobcats. The T-Birds beat Brandon in two games to advance to the Canada West Final Four in Winnipeg.
The last two games of the ’Birds' regular season were also against Brandon. The ’Birds split the weekend doubleheader, taking the first game at 3-2 while Brandon dominated the second game 3-0.
Both teams had comparable conference and head-to-head records. There was no real way of telling how the quarter-final series would play out.
Friday’s game saw momentum switch back and forth between the two teams. Neither team won two sets in a row and the score differential was never more than four points in the first four sets.
Needing a decisive fifth set, the ’Birds preyed on a tired Bobcat team, winning the final set 15-6. UBC outside hitter Irvan Brar led in both kills and digs with 21 and 16 respectively. Setter Byron Keturakis also had a standout performance for the ’Birds, recording 52 assists in the five-set match.
Brandon was looking to rebound on Saturday and force a third winner-take-all game on Sunday. They took the first set in a commanding fashion by a score of 25-20 thanks to numerous UBC errors.
The second set was a marathon. It was by far one of the longest set the ’Birds have played all season. Going back-and-forth in the set, the Bobcats had 11 set-point opportunities that were all defended by the ’Birds. UBC came back to take the set 37-35.
The T-Birds continued to play well and they easily took the third set 25-12. With their season on the line, the Bobcats answered by taking the fourth set by a close score of 25-23. This forced a fifth set for the second night in a row.
The Bobcats drive ended there. The ’Birds took the final set 15-9 to punch in their ticket to the Canada West Final Four in Winnipeg. The other two teams moving into the Final Four are the University of Manitoba Bisons, the University of Alberta Golden Bears and the Trinity Western University Spartans.
The Thunderbirds will get little rest as they play the Bisons on Friday, March 10.