Kellen Forrest; Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The UBC Thunderbirds spoiled the University of Calgary Dinos' Seniors Night at the Jack Simpson Gym on Saturday afternoon, as they defeated the Dinos in straight sets (25-20, 25-23, 25-23).
After UBC took the first match on Friday afternoon, the teams entered the game with identical records of 10-11, making the outcome of this match very important for playoff seeding. With the win, the Thunderbirds (11-11) will finish ahead of the Dinos (10-12) in the standings, allowing them to avoid matching up with 19-2 Brandon in the first round.
Keeping with the theme of Friday's game, the teams showed how evenly matched they were, as all three sets were tightly contested. The first set was the most lopsided, as UBC would go on a 4-0 run with the score tied at 12-12, and would be able to hold on from there for a first set victory. UBC hit a blistering .480 in the set, which would lead to 15 kills and a 25-20 first set win.
The Thunderbirds were able to use the momentum from their first set victory to take a 9-4 lead early in set number two. However, the Dinos would battle back to tie it at 12-12, thanks in large part to Tim Taylor, who had 5 of his 12 kills in the set. The teams would go back and forth for the remainder of the set, until with the score tied at 23-23, the Dinos would have back-to-back attack errors, giving UBC the 25-23 win.
With their backs against the wall, the Dinos would come out storming in the third, taking the first three points of the set for a 3-0 lead. Thunderbird setter Ben Hooker, who had a game-high 36 assists in the match, would lead his team right back as he orchestrated four straight kills, allowing his team to tie the match at 4-4. An incredible scramble by the Dinos late in the third set, looked to give them the momentum they needed to send the match to a fourth. However, UBC hitter Michael Dowhaniuk was too much for the Dinos, as his three late kills would help his team to the 25-23 third set win.
Serving was key in this one, as even though the Thunderbirds had more service errors, they were able to out ace the Dinos 6-0.
Dowhaniuk would lead the Thunderbirds offensively, contributing a game-high 15 kills. Matt Neaves would chip in with 10 kills of his own.
Liam Kuppe was a bright spot for the Dinos, as he had his season-high 14 kills on the afternoon.
Blain Cranston once again lead the Dinos in assists, setting up his teammates 26 times. The fifth-year Cranston played his last ever game in the Jack Simpson Gym, and was overcome with emotion at the end of the game.
"So much goes into the time that you have here, and on nights like this, you think about the people that were here with you from the start," explained Cranston. "It's hard to put into words."
The postseason will begin for both teams next weekend, as the Dinos will head to Brandon to take on the first-place Bobcats, while the Thunderbirds will take on either Trinity Western or Alberta.
Photo by David Moll