Aneesa Heatherington / UBC Athletics
VANCOUVER - The UBC Thunderbirds (10-7) took sole possession of fourth place in the Canada West with a commanding 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-13) victory over the UBCO Heat (2-17) at War Memorial Gym. Kiera Van Ryk tallied 15 kills with three aces and a team-high six digs, while Jayde Robertsen racked up four kills with three aces and four blocks in the straight-sets win.
"When we play with a good level of focus and consistency, we bring quite a bit of offence," said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. "I think some people did a really good job in ways you don't always notice - Ciara Hanly served really well. She had 17 attempts, missed one serve and had three aces. [Olivia Furlan] did a good job moving the ball around to different hitters. It was a match we can build some positive energy and momentum off of moving forward."
Ann Richards led the Heat with 13 kills, and Aidan Lea put up three blocks and two aces - plus three kills in defeat.
The two UBC sides traded blows early in the opening set before Tessa Davis gave the T-Birds the lead at 7-6 and made it 9-7 with her second kill. Davis' third kill of the match put the 'Birds up 12-8 and Robertsen widened the gap on a block at 20-15 Thunderbirds. Hanly combined with Victoria Behie and Furlan for three consecutive blocks in a lengthy rally for a set point, and yet another Furlan-Hanly block won the set at 25-18.
Robertsen dropped her second ace of the match for a 7-4 lead in the second set, but Sydney Grills came up with a big block for UBCO to tie it at 11-11. Lea broke yet another tie with an ace to give the Heat a 14-13 edge that they carried to a 16-14 lead at the technical timeout. UBC and UBCO went shot-for-shot down the stretch before Natalie Livingston served long to put the 'Birds up 23-22 and a Hanly block gave UBC a set point. Captain Behie stepped into the role of setter and assisted Van Ryk's eighth kill to take it, 25-23.
With the third set knotted up at 7-7, Davis smacked her sixth kill and Van Ryk went on a serving run to give UBC a 11-7 advantage. The Thunderbirds extended their lead to 16-10 at the break and rode a Hanly serving run to a 22-11 lead. Van Ryk earned a block for a set point at 24-13 and won it for the 'Birds on an ace.
"We had a number of people help provide offence," said Reimer. "But for our blocking and defence...we need to maintain our focus and get better at that."
The two teams will renew acquaintances on Saturday evening at 5:00 p.m. at War Memorial Gym.
PHOTO: Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds