'Improvement in the next little bit' for Thunderbirds after tough West Coast Classic defeat

Wrapping up the West Coast Classic on Saturday night, the T-Birds women’s volleyball team faced their third loss in three games at War Memorial Gym against the University of Alberta Pandas. Final score? 3-1 for the visiting Pandas.

It was a hard match for the Thunderbirds, as several members were sidelined due to injuries sustained prior to the tournament — including recruit Kiera Van Ryk who is recovering from an ankle injury. However, the remaining UBC side still put on an excellent performance, led by right side Olivia Furlan who finished twelve kills for the home team.

“I’m pretty satisfied with my performance,” said Furlan, who played setter last season for the ’Birds, post-game. “Being a setter and then coming into a right side position isn’t necessarily what I’m used to, but having a setter like [Alessandra Gentile] makes me look very good.”

Despite winning more kills, the T-Birds didn’t manage to nail their services off the bat, resulting in a first set loss. They managed to catch up in the second set, with improved serving and middle transition helping them to a four-point spread and set win against the Pandas.

The Thunderbirds celebrate after taking a point in the set.
The Thunderbirds celebrate after taking a point in the set. Elizabeth Wang

Alberta wasn’t keeping it friendly after that, as the tie-breaking set was indeed a game full of long rallies. Although the Pandas led by four points in the beginning, UBC soon caught up with a stronger attack. Neither side got to widen their gap by a significant number and the set finally ended up 23-25 in favour of the visitors.

The ’Birds weren’t able to take back the final set, instead settling for an 18-25 set defeat and match defeat to boot.

“There were a couple of challenges for the girls in this game,” said UBC Head Coach Doug Reimer. “We’ve got people coming off from injuries, so I think mentally it was hard for us to play well for a long time in the third day [of the tournament].”

Looking forward to the regular season, Reimer said that continued improvement would be the ongoing focus. “We have to work really hard in both training and matching — it’s more about just our improvement in the next little bit.”

UBC starts their regular season this week with back-to-back games against the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat on Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21.