Under the Friday night lights at War Memorial Gym, the first nationally ranked ’Birds women’s volleyball team had a thrilling 3-2 victory over the Brandon Bobcats to extend their winning streak to nine games.
Through the opening points of the first set, UBC looked slow coming off their bye week. Miscommunications in the middle caused the Thunderbirds some issues, but good defensive play at the net kept the score close.
“We’re really focusing on the press and all the important things in blocking and that was really important — the girls came out strong hitting and they are using the block [smartly],” first-year Kiera Van Ryk said about her team's early play at the net.
However, UBC’s disconnect let Brandon get ahead in the game while UBC players were getting into one another's way on the court. The Bobcats took advantage of the ’Birds rough start, coming back from four points down to take the first set 25-21.
In the second, UBC went down early but quickly rallied to tie it up. The ’Birds looked to get their normal communication back throughout the middle of the set with a few four-point runs. In spite of the T-Birds tighter game, the Bobcats kept it close to the last few serves — but the 'Birds held strong, taking the set 25-19.
The T-Birds looked refocused to start the third set, opening with an early lead and building steadily from there. The Bobcats had a steep hill to climb if they wanted to win the set as they quickly faced an eight-point deficit, though the ’Birds got a subbing violation, giving away a two-point swing in favour of the visitors. However, UBC started to show more of their regular prowess and obliterated the visitors in the end — the score showed their domination with a sizeable 25-13 win.
In the fourth, UBC was looking frustrated as they were stifled by Brandon’s defensive play and couldn’t separate the score line. Knotted at 23 all late in the set, the Bobcats continued to battle hard, eventually taking the set 27-25 to send it to a fifth.
Both teams looked motivated to fight for the win in the final frame, exchanging points as the score remained tight all through the final set. Anna Price would finally sink the visitors with the winning swing, as the Bobcats’ block went out of bounds. UBC won the final set 16-14, taking the game three sets to two for their ninth straight win.
“Overall I think we just need to keep playing our game instead of playing theirs and getting frustrated with those little things. It’s really important for us to keep calm and steady,” Van Ryk said of the takeaways from Friday.
The 'Birds wouldn't be able to keep the Bobcats at bay all weekend though, as the visitors came back to upset the home side on Saturday with a 3-1 win, ending UBC's win streak. The split weekend puts the Thunderbirds at a 15-3 record in Canada West — they still lead the league, but Calgary is right on their tail.