After dropping the first set, the Thunderbirds won three to knock out OUA champions Brock University Badgers 3–1 to secure a spot in Saturday’s U Sports semifinals.
The second-seeded Badgers took the lead from the start, dominating the first set 25–18. The ‘Birds brought the intensity in the second set and kept pace with the Badgers. A kill from Cara Kovacs sealed the deal for a ‘Birds set at 25–19.
“I thought Brock played really really well for so much of that match and so our resilience and ability to hang in there was impressive,” said head coach Doug Reimer.
In the third set, the T-Birds thrilled the crowd by coming back from a 23–19 deficit. Lucy Borowski and Brynn Pasin took turns delivering kills to earn a second T-Birds set 27–25.
“The crowd here was amazing,” said Pasin. “Thankfully we’re on home turf — that helped so much.”
The energy of the crowd only intensified as UBC earned garnered a 20–13 lead in the fourth set. In a succession of points that kept the stands on their toes, Brock lessened the gap to three points.
“We’ve been really working on our connection, being emotionally invested in each other and coming back to the circle,” said Pasin. “We just rallied off of that and rallied off of each other.”
Brock's comeback fell short, and UBC was faced with the chance to take the game. The tension in the air was palpable. An attacking error gave the Badgers the serve, but the Thunderbirds would have another match point.
Akash Grewal came up with a big kill to win the match as a roar erupted throughout the gym.
“It was just so much fun tonight,” said Pasin. “I’m looking forward to doing it tomorrow.”
The Thunderbirds will play either the number three-seeded Mount Royal Cougars or the number six Manitoba Bisons at 8 p.m. on Saturday in the U Sports nationals semifinals at the War Memorial Gym.