The UBC Thunderbirds are your 2016/17 U Sports National Champions.
The ’Birds had trouble in the regular season. Facing Canada West rivals and national contenders like the Trinity Western University Spartans and the University of Alberta Pandas proved to be their biggest obstacle. The team finished their season with a 20-4 conference record, but they fell in their first meeting against the Pandas and their first three against the Spartans.
Not to be deterred, the T-Birds fought back to spoil the Panda's perfect record in the final two games of the regular season before finally overcoming the Spartans in the Canada West final four to book their ticket to the nationals.
The Thunderbirds had a tough schedule — three games in three nights. They kicked things off with a 3-1 win against the Western University Mustangs. The game was highlighted by outside hitter Danielle Brisebois’ 22 kills and eight digs, left side Juliana Kaufmanis’ 13 digs and 11 kills, and setter Alessandra Gentile’s whopping 39 assists.
Next, the ’Birds were forced to once again square-off against the Spartans. With middle Ciara Hanly’s leading seven blocks and Brisebois’ 16 kills, the ’Birds took the game easily 3-0.
The grand finale pitted the Thunderbirds against the Pandas in an all-Canada West thriller. The T-Birds won the first two sets before falling in the third 25-13. But the team rallied. Led once again by Danielle Brisebois — playing her final game with the Thunderbirds — and an inspiring 11-kill, four-ace and five-block game by middle Maggie Li, the ’Birds took the final set 25-20 and claimed their first national title since their 2013/14 campaign.
Danielle Brisebois was named finals MVP, and was named to the all-star roster along with fellow ’Birds Maggie Li and Alessandra Gentile.