UBC men’s volleyball swept the MacEwan Griffins last weekend, winning three sets to one on both Friday and Saturday and improving their record to 5–1 overall.
The first set of Friday’s match saw with both teams trading points evenly until midway through when UBC built up a 17–14 lead on the back of multiple errors by the Griffins. After a timeout called by MacEwan head coach Brad Poplawski, the Griffins rallied back to once again tie up the score. Despite the Griffins’ effectiveness at hampering the T-Birds’ offence, a couple of forceful kills by opposite hitter Matt Neaves sealed the deal for UBC, who eked out a 25–23 set win.
The excitement turned up early in the second set. With the Thunderbirds down by one point, the tenacious defensive efforts of twins Logan and Mason Greves produced spectacular digs that made the crowd roar and tied the score 3–3. When the T-Birds had built up a comfortable 11–7 lead, MacEwan headed into a timeout. Solid play from Griffins Alexei Walisser and Alexander Lyndon brought their team just one point short of a tie repeatedly, but an ace and two kills from UBC’s Michael Dowhaniuk allowed the ‘Birds to have the last laugh, winning 25–22.
Down two sets to nil, MacEwan did not shrink away quietly. They started the next frame with a massive 6–0 lead, with Lyndon getting a couple of aces and the team forcing the Thunderbirds into multiple errors. As the Griffins put on a show powered by outside hitter Jefferson Morrow, no timeout could stop their momentum, and the closest UBC got was within three points early in the set. The T-Birds ended with a 25–10 loss, a stark contrast to the previous sets.
“Sometimes in volleyball, you’ll get in a rut where nothing goes right, and everything goes the way of the opponent, and that’s what happened,” said UBC head coach Mike Hawkins.
With some time to reset from the third set, the ‘Birds started the fourth off strong, with a block, a kill and an ace to bring them up 3–1. The Thunderbirds fully shifted the momentum of the set their way with some Neaves kills enabling a 4–0 run midway through the set, putting them up 13–9. Multiple service errors by MacEwan near the end of the set allowed UBC to maintain their comfortable lead, ending the game with a 25–20 set win.
“[In the third set] we gave them a bit of fresh air by subbing in some guys, and we were confident in what we did the first couple sets and were true to our style of play, and that’s what produced the victory,” Hawkins said.
Saturday’s game started with the MacEwan offence on full speed, with Walisser alone getting seven kills and two aces to win the first set 25–19. The second set went fully in UBC’s direction; Conaire Taub and Gerard Murray contributed a combined seven kills to dominate the Griffins 25–11. Not content to rest on their laurels, the Thunderbirds pulled out to a 6–0 lead in the third, which MacEwan was never able to make up, resulting in a 25–19 UBC win. The final set was much tighter to begin, but the ‘Birds were able to separate themselves from MacEwan halfway through, and six kills from Dowhaniuk helped bury the Griffins for good with a third-set win, 25–21.
The Thunderbirds’ next match will be this Friday at 7 p.m. in Winnipeg, where they will face the University of Manitoba Bisons, who are currently 2–4 in the regular season.