Stu Walters / UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds picked up a fourth straight win in getting past the Brandon Bobcats 3-1 (25-19, 25-22, 21-25, 25-22) at War Memorial Gym. Canada's No. 2 ranked T-Birds improved their record to 15-2 while the Bobcats ranked No. 4 in the country now sit at 12-5 on the season.
The 'Birds were in a groove early in jumping out to first set leads of 6-1 and 9-2 causing Bobcats head coach Grant Wilson to call timeouts at each score line. Leading the way for the T-Birds in the first set was second-year middle Jordan Deshane with four of his game high 13 kills while fifth year right side Mat Guidi recorded four of his eight kills in the opening set. Setting the tone for the visitors was Elliot Viles with three of his team high nine kills in the contest.
The second set proved a little closer and involved the T-Birds stepping up in crunch time with some emphatic plays to close it out 25-22. With the Birds trailing 22-21 they enjoyed three straight kills, one from Fynn McCarthy and two in a row from Deshane for a 24-22 advantage before Irvan Brar had the final say with a decisive service ace for set point. Brar also added four kills in the set while Keith West chipped in with three of his 10 kills on the evening. For the visitors, it was Viles who stepped up with four kills.
Making his presence felt for the Bobcats who responded to take the third set 25-21 was outside hitter Seth Friesen racking up four of his nine kills on the night while six foot eight teammate Matt Powell added two of his three kills. For the Thunderbirds Keith West stepped up with four more kills, West was all over the court finishing with a team high 11 digs as well.
The fourth set saw UBC jump out to a 6-2 lead ahead of a Bobcats timeout. The 'Birds would enjoy leads of 16-12 and 20-14 courtesy of a big kill from Brar, one of his 12 on the night to go along with eight digs for the team captain. With UBC leading 24-22 it was Fynn McCarthy and Keith West who would combine for a big block to secure match point and deny any Brandon hopes for a comeback.
Thunderbirds head coach Kerry MacDonald appreciated his team's effort coming off the bye week.
"Overall, I thought that we did what we needed to do to get a gritty win, I don't think our execution was very crisp on the whole," said MacDonald. "I thought it was great at times but it definitely lagged at times as well, but when you're playing the No. 4 team in the country if you can get a gritty win you take it."
MacDonald added, "I thought our middles did a great job for us tonight offensively, they carried a lot of the load but that's also a testament for how well we received so kudos to our reception corps to allow us to run the middle like we did"
The rematch goes Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. PT at the War Memorial Gym.
PHOTO: Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds