WVB: T-Birds come up short in five-set nailbiter

WVB: T-Birds come up short in five-set nailbiter

Aneesa Heatherington/UBC Thunderbirds

The Manitoba Bisons (3-3) edged the UBC Thunderbirds (3-5) for a tight 3-2 (21-25, 25-19, 25-22, 24-26, 18-16) road victory to split the weekend series at War Memorial Gym.

"We made far too many errors in situations where we can't," said UBC Head Coach Doug Reimer. "Give Manitoba credit, they served better in our gym...mixed things up and made it look like their home court. Despite the fact that we do a ton of good things, we're racking up losses in situations where we can't and we have to get better. There should be more belief in what we're doing and it's going to take a little while. We have to be patient, but we also have to demand a little bit more of ourselves in some of those situations. Not just the fifth set, because that's the most fresh...but earlier in the match we could've done a better and more consistent job."

Laura Findlay led the Bisons with 13 kills and five aces, while Kiera Van Ryk finished with a team-high 22 kills and added 7 aces with 8 digs for the T-Birds. Jayde Robertson contributed 13 kills with 4 blocks and Olivia Furlan put up 7 aces to go along with 47 assists and 7 digs in the loss.

Furlan dropped her first ace to give the T-Birds the lead at 9-8 and catalyzed a UBC run that they maintained to their first set point at 24-18. Manitoba jumped on a few late opportunities but UBC reset and closed it out on a Robertson kill at 25-21.

Van Ryk served up a pair of aces to even it up at 7-7 in the second before Manitoba's Jocelyn Koswin went on a serving streak of her own to reclaim the lead that the Bisons held for a 25-19 win. Findlay hit her third and fourth aces of the match to put the visitors up 6-1 in the third, but the T-Birds got a boost from Brynn Pasin who tallied back-to-back kills to make it 9-7. The Bisons led 16-12 at the technical timeout and fought off a UBC comeback to take the third set 25-23.

The T-Birds fell behind in the fourth before Victoria Behie's serving run brought them back at 9-9 and Van Ryk's twelfth kill put the T-Birds up 16-14 at the technical timeout. The teams traded blows up until a double contact was called on Manitoba to give UBC a set point at 24-23, but Furlan's kill was called wide to tie it up again. On their second set point, the Thunderbirds converted with a massive block to force a fifth set.

Tessa Davis opened up the final set with one of her six kills of the match, but the Bisons responded by winning the next five straight points and held an 8-5 edge at the technical timeout. Van Ryk made it a one-point game at 11-10 and tied it up at 11-11 with a solo block. At 16-16

"I was just really pleased with the way we came back today after taking a good thumping yesterday," said Bisons head coach Ken Bentley after the narrow victory. "I was just real pleased how we came back and showed some real grit and tenacity today to stay in the fight. I thought we passed the ball much better than yesterday which was significant and I thought we served really consistently and simply played better volleyball today."

The T-Birds will head back out on the road next week to visit the Regina Cougars, and UBC's Coach Reimer is looking forward to getting back at it.

"Onwards now. There are a number of good things going on for a lot of our team and I don't want to lose track of that."

PHOTO: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds