Stu Walters / UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds extended their winning streak to six consecutive games thanks to a convincing 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 25-11) straight sets victory over the Winnipeg Wesmen at War Memorial Gym Friday night. It was a busy and boisterous crowd taking part in an energized Thunderstruck festival combined with the women's volleyball team recognizing graduating seniors Victoria Behie, Samantha Patko, Ciara Hanly and Danae Shephard for their contributions to the program.
Kiera Van Ryk was dominant in registering a game high 16 kills, four service aces and seven digs while Tessa Davis was instrumental with 11 kills and 10 digs. Jayde Robertsen chipped in with 10 kills and one service ace while Olivia Furlan dished out a game high 33 assists and Samantha Patko recorded a game high 11 digs.
Emma Parker set the pace for the Wesmen with a team high six kills, one service ace and six digs while Ashleigh Laube followed up with five kills and two digs. Madison Fyvie contributed a team high eight digs.
"I think we've improved in terms of our composure and team defence," said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. "Winnipeg does a good job in finding holes in different areas but I think especially early in the match we did a good job of taking care of that and limited their ability to get going, so overall we were steadier defensively and more consistent offensively."
UBC jumped out to a good start and a 7-2 lead with four of those points courtesy of Van Ryk kills, Davis would follow up with the second of two straight kills following what was the most entertaining rally of the frame to make it 9-3 T-Birds. Van Ryk would add the first of her two service aces in the period before adding another kill leading to the 'Birds 16-10 advantage at the technical timeout. Robertsen counted her fifth kill of the set to go in front 20-13 ahead of Ana Price who's kill took the T-Birds to set point at 24-15 and an eventual 25-16 first set win. Van Ryk led the way with six kills and two service aces while Robertsen registered five kills. Tessa Davis added three kills while Behie and Patko added six digs each. Laube had two kills while Fyvie got down for three digs for the Wesmen.
The 'Birds continued with their execution in the second set as Van Ryk delivered the first of two more aces in the frame and a 5-3 lead. As it progressed Davis and Robertsen combined for an impressive block in the middle giving UBC a 12-9 lead before Robertsen counted her third kill of the frame and a 16-10 advantage at the technical timeout. Davis would add to her set high five kills leading the 'Birds to set point ahead of Shephard making her presence felt with a big set clinching block in the middle and a 25-15 win for UBC. Parker had a team high four kills and three digs while Laube added two kills for the visitors.
The third set would be the T-Birds best as they enjoyed an impressive .519 hitting percentage en route to a 25-11 win and 3-0 straight sets sweep. Furlan's second kill of the night led UBC to a 16-8 advantage at the technical timeout and the hosts did not look back with the help of Van Ryk's most dominating frame in picking up eight more kills.
"I think this was an important match because we've struggled against teams like Winnipeg who are maybe a little bit smaller but have good ball control and are crafty," added Reimer. "I was happy to see that for today and I think our focus was good on the evening given there was a lot going on and it hasn't been the easiest week with some players not feeling well combined with school pressures and so on. Practice maybe wasn't at the same level that we've seen but for them to come out like they did, I was very pleased."
With another four service aces in the contest, second-year T-Bird Kiera Van Ryk increased her season total to 64 which leads all of Canada West and is the second highest total ever accrued in a regular season. The record is 71 aces in a season and Van Ryk has three more matches left to reach or surpass that milestone.
With just two weeks to play in the Canada West regular season and playoff positioning still up for grabs the T-Birds improved their record to 14-7, good for fifth spot in the standings and two points back of Regina who sits in fourth spot. Meanwhile with the loss the Wesmen fell to 4-17 on the campaign.
The teams meet for the rematch Saturday night with a 5 o'clock start at War Memorial Gym.
PHOTO: Rich Lam / UBC Thunderbirds