Women's volleyball sweep Wolfpack, still need set consistency to stake claim to Canada West

The UBC Thunderbirds completed the sweep of the Thompson Rivers University (TRU) Wolfpack on Friday night with a win in straight sets at War Memorial Gym.

Although the ’Birds were able to close out the game in a quick three sets, things didn’t go as smoothly as the score-line indicates.

The game was full of up and downs and switches of momentum. The T-Birds started out perfectly, with left side Anna Price pushing the team to an early 4-0 lead with her service aces. The game continued to go in UBC's favour until they hit the 10-3 scoreline.

After calling a timeout, the Wolfpack came back to the court reinvigorated, while UBC starting to lose their offensive consistency. With the tables turned, TRU reduced the Thunderbirds lead to 10-8. This would be the trend through the set, as a similar situation happened later in the frame when the Wolfpack caught up once again to 22-20. Even with the tight margins, the T-Birds finally ended the set with a two-point lead.

The next set was just as thrilling and tight as the first — the two teams were in a head-to-head battle. Neither side could take more than a three-point lead. The deadlock continued throughout the set until first-year Kiera Van Ryk made a kill, assisted by veteran Alessandra Gentile, that took the team to 20 points.

The T-Birds then regained control with a service ace from Van Ryk and kills from Ciara Hanly and Victoria Behie, which closed out the second set at 25-21 in favour of UBC.

UBC's Anna Price sends the ball careening towards TRU's defensive wall.
UBC's Anna Price sends the ball careening towards TRU's defensive wall. Elizabeth Wang

The final frame was another difficult one for the ’Birds. The Wolfpack once again worked their way back from an 8-2 deficit and went on a five-point streak which put added pressure on the hosts. However, the T-Birds refused to have any déjà vu from the last set, and dug deep in the final points. With a 7-1 run in UBC’s favour, the team successfully found their tempo in the final frame and secured the straight set victory 25-18 in the third.

"It's a little frustrating that we didn't continue to push through the leads," said UBC head coach Doug Reimer of closing out the sets, “Look at the third set as an example, where we're up 8-2 and then it becomes 8-8. That's just some errors, and we can't be satisfied with that and letting teams back in.”

In terms of an overall look at the team, Reimer also spoke to working on a more consistent game for his team.

"We don't have to be great, we have to be good for a long period of time," he said. "Being great doesn't matter if you give it all away."

Individually, Van Ryk led the team with 13 kills on the night, followed by Gabrielle Attieh with nine. Friday’s game was also a memorable one for team captain Alessandra Gentile as the senior player was awarded the annual Ray Lepp scholarship presented by Volleyball BC.

“I felt very honored. The list of people that received the award are all very great volleyball players. I’m glad to be part of them,” said Gentile post-game.

Up next, the Thunderbirds head to Edmonton to take on the Alberta Pandas starting on Friday, November 17.