Women's volleyball improves to 15–1 over January away games

Coming back from winter break, UBC’s women’s volleyball team has spent the last two weeks away, improving their record to 15–1 in the season.

Here’s what you might have missed.

UBC sweeps UBCO after five-set thriller

The weekend of January 5 and 6 saw the ‘Birds sweep the UBC Okanagan (UBCO) Heat in five sets on Friday and three sets on Saturday.

On January 5, the ‘Birds and Heat went back-and-forth in the first set until a UBCO kill shifted the momentum to their side of the court. This led to a six-point lead before UBC called a timeout. After the short break, UBC came out swinging with an out-of-system kill from outside hitter Katarina Pantovic, dished out by libero Kacey Jost, followed by an Issy Robertshaw service ace.

Despite this new momentum, a series of unforced serve receive and attack errors furthered UBCO’s lead, 17–9. UBC tightened the point gap with two aces from Victoria D'Acre and an Akash Grewal kill but were unable to clutch the first set, losing 25–17.

In the second set, the teams traded points once again until a service ace and two kills from outside hitter Lucy Borowski swung things in the ‘Birds’s favour. UBCO errors and kills from UBC’s Grewal and Trinity Solecki clinched the second set win, 25–16.

UBC made its presence known in the third set, capitalizing off UBCO errors. Despite calling two timeouts at 8–4 and 12–5, the Heat were unable to get out of their point deficit until a UBCO ace and kill tied the teams up at 20. T-Birds Erika Vermette, Emma Doyon, Grewal and Borowski lit up the court, killing the Heat’s last opportunities to win this set.

The fourth set had UBCO gain momentum off four Thunderbirds unforced errors. Besides the first two points of the set, UBC was unable to take a lead and was downed by UBCO 25–14. In the fifth set, the Heat started strong but UBC turned it around after UBCO attack errors and a Thunderbird ace from Solecki. Borowski kills kept the ‘Birds close with the Heat and a Grewal kill sealed the deal for the team, giving them their first 2024 win.

On January 6, the Heat stayed competitive with the ‘Birds (25–18, 25–22, 25–22) but their chances at a win were snuffed out by a last-point kill from Pantovic in the first set and from Vermette in the second and third sets.

Over the two games, Grewal and Borowski wracked up a team-high 19 kills each. Middle Claire Cossarini led the team in blocks with 11, and Jost led the team with 26 digs.

Pandas give UBC year’s first straight-set sweep

UBC swept the University of Alberta Pandas in straight sets on January 12 and 13.

January 12 saw UBC beat the Pandas in three sets (25–17, 25–18, 25–23). Grewal led the both teams in kills with 9, with Borowski and Pantovic following closely with 8 each. Alberta’s Lauryn Tremblay led her team in kills with 7.

UBC came out strong, going on a run in the first set of the January 13 game. The ‘Birds were assertive at the net with a kill from Borowski, a block from Borowski and Doyon and a kill from Pantovic before their team reached five points. Pandas libero Kalysta Knappett was a player to watch on the Alberta side, keeping the team steady during out-of-system plays. UBC stayed dominant throughout the set despite Pandas runs, clinching the win off an Alberta blocking error 25–18.

The second set saw UBC and Alberta going back-and-forth. Miscommunication on the UBC side gave the Pandas points, but a series of Grewal aces shut them down. Jost came in clutch when the ‘Birds needed hands for out-of-systems plays and even managed to pancake a Pandas attack, giving UBC momentum to win the second set 25–21.

Alberta came out strong in the third set, leading 3–0. Kills from Borowski and Doyon brought the ‘Birds tied with Alberta at 4 all. The Pandas garnered a lead with scrappy plays and UBC errors, allowing them to lead the set 20–13. But, Alberta errors and a series of UBC kills from Grewal, Cossarini and Vermette (all dished by Borowski) brought the Thunderbirds to 22 all. A Robertshaw set to Borowski kill sealed the deal for UBC, winning the last set 25–22.

Borowski wracked up a team-high 11 kills, with Grewal following closely with 10 kills and 6 aces.

The Thunderbirds (15–1) will return to War Memorial Gym to play against the University of Manitoba Bisons (14–2) today and tomorrow. First serve is at 6 p.m. today.