The UBC men’s volleyball team ground out a win against the Trinity Western Spartans at the highly attended Pride Night on Friday. They bounced back to win 3–2 after dropping a game to the Spartans in Langley the night before, also in five close sets.
Pride Night is hosted annually by the UBC men’s and women’s volleyball teams in association with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association. The energy the event brought to the game was palpable — tickets were sold out, and fans were dressed up, dancing and singing in the stands. For head coach Mike Hawkins and the team, Pride Night is a special experience to be a part of.
“It’s a reflection of the UBC community — this inclusivity, love, equality,” he said. “Those things are so important whether you're on a sports team or you're just a regular student, or you're just a regular person in our community.”
The Thunderbirds began the first set with a series of kills from third-year middle Jon Lockie and second-year outside hitter Reeve Gingera, giving UBC an early lead that dwindled into a point-for-point battle with the Spartans. A kill from Gingera brought it home, and the ‘Birds took the first set at 25–23.
The Spartans started off the second set with an early lead. Although the T-Birds pulled ahead briefly mid-set, a series of Spartan kills overpowered the defence and UBC dropped the second set, 25–22. The third set was also close, but the Thunderbirds lost momentum halfway through due to their receiving errors and lost the third set, 25–22.
The fourth set was a nail-biter. A series of kills from second-year outside hitter Gavin Moes overtook the early Spartan lead, only for the Spartans to pull ahead again briefly with kills by Henry Remple. A long, suspenseful rally ended with a score off the block by UBC’s Conaire Taub, bringing it back to a tie. The Spartans reached match point at 26–25 but an unexpected Gingera kill into the left corner tied the game once again. A series of service errors by both teams dragged the set out, but the energy of the players and the crowd stayed high.
Finally, an out-of-bounds Spartan kill brought the grueling fourth set to an end and the ‘Birds to victory, 30–28. To Hawkins, success in a long set like that hinges on being “composed in those really difficult moments” and understanding how to “best utilize our guys’ skill sets.”
The T-Birds found momentum in the final set after three kills in a row by third-year middle Kieran Robinson-Dunning. The Spartans came back, but a kill by Gingera won the set for the Thunderbirds, 15–13.
UBC now sits at third in Canada West standings and TWU remains seventh. The T-Birds' next game is on February 9 against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon.