Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON — Completing a stunning comeback from 19-11 down in the fourth set, the UBC Thunderbirds wrapped up a weekend sweep of the MacEwan Griffins with a 3-1 victory on Saturday night.
The Thunderbirds trailed nearly the entire way to 24 in the fourth, but they stayed alive on set point and scored a 26-24 win when Danielle Brisebois' serve went off a defender into the seats.
It resulted in a 26-24, 19-25, 25-16, 26-24 win for UBC that moves them to 7-3 in the Canada West standings heading into the first semester break.
It was a devastating way for a winnable match to end for the Griffins, who will sit on a 3-9 record until they resume play in January.
"The girls stayed energized and the fourth set was in our control," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs. "We managed to get to that 23 really good and we just can't finish. You could just see. We've seen that script before over and over again that we're going to error our way to lose the close one, but that's what pressure does."
The first set was also in the balance and could have gone either way. The Griffins controlled the game at times and earned a set point at 24-23. But UBC showed just a little more poise in the final points, wresting a 26-24 victory when Lauren Holmes was blocked on a right-side kill attempt.
That didn't seem to faze MacEwan like it did a night earlier, though. In fact, the Griffins seized control early in the second set, going on a 6-2 run to lead 11-6 when Haley Gilfillan slammed down an over-bumped ball in the middle. UBC rallied with a 10-3 run, though, and skated into the technical timeout with a 16-14 lead.
However, the Griffins dug deeper than a night earlier and grabbed the momentum as they rolled to a 25-19 win when UBC's kill attempt went into the net.
It certainly was a match that went back and forth with some wild swings.
"The only way I can explain some of those runs is they were triggered from good serving," said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. "It took teams out of their systems and just, for times, at least on our side of the court, there was failure on basic execution stuff.
"It would be almost like they would earn a point or two with tough serving and then we'd give them one or two. Then they'd earn another. You've got to be stingier than that.
"Having said that, our ability to come back there in that fourth set. We were down quite a bit and we played some good volleyball right at the end."
They also played some good volleyball in the third set, controlling it from start to finish, flying into the technical timeout with a 16-6 lead when MacEwan was called for a double hit off a serve-receive.
When Gabrielle Attieh hammered home a huge kill over a short MacEwan block from the left side, UBC scored a 25-15 win.
"I'm not really happy about the third set or giving up the lead in the fourth, but that's our MO right now: just to stay in control," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs. "UBC's a really good team. They showed us in the third set they have another gear. All the big teams do.
"The great thing is we didn't collapse. Even in that last end of (the third), we were still pushing."
Part of that was due to a solid game from Gilfillan, who had 10 kills on a .471 percentage for the Griffins, adding five blocks in dominating the middle of the court.
"I thought Haley Gilfillan came in and had a great day after she got to watch last night," said Briggs. "She really made a difference in the middle for us out there. Cassidy (Kinsella) had a big night – really big improvement over last night. I can't complain about it."
Kinsella led the Griffins in kills with 14 and added 10 digs, while Karlie Edgar had a game-high 19 digs.
Brisebois had another big game for UBC with 16 kills, six digs and three blocks, while Ciara Hanly chipped in nine kills and six blocks and Laura Worsley had 18 digs.
MacEwan has a bye week right after the break and doesn't return to action until Jan. 13 when Calgary pays a visit.
UBC is back in action on Jan. 6 vs. UBC-Okanagan.