UBC women's volleyball split the weekend series against the University of Manitoba Bisons, winning in straight sets on Friday and losing in five on Saturday.
Friday’s game was a solid showing for both teams, with the Thunderbirds and Bisons trading points for much of the game.
Neither team took a lead in the first set until a kill from UBC’s Erika Vermette pushed the team to 20 points, giving them momentum to clutch the set. A Manitoba attack error forced them to a timeout which proved useful, leading to two Bisons points off a UBC attack error and Manitoba kill. But the ‘Birds didn't let the first set win get away from them — they capitalized off a Manitoba error with a kill from Katarina Pantovic, pushing the team to set point. Despite this newfound momentum, Manitoba pushed back, earning two more points, but an Akash Grewal kill sealed the deal for UBC, 25–23.
Manitoba came out strong in the second set, amassing an early four point lead. But UBC was on fire from the attack line, with kills from Vermette, Grewal and Emma Doyon tightening up the score. UBC’s first lead in this set wasn’t until 17–16 off a Vermette service ace. Manitoba’s Raya Surnix — who garnered 35 kills over the weekend and leads both Canada West (CW) and U Sports in kills and kills per set — smashed down four kills in seven points, giving her team the lead once again (22–21). A Claire Cossarini kill tied the teams up, and three Grewal service aces clutched the win for UBC, 25–22.
The teams went back and forth once again in the third, but a series of three UBC points forced Mantoba into a timeout. Coming out of the break, UBC stayed on top, capitalizing off of perfect sets from T-Bird setter Issy Robertshaw and Manitoba errors. But Robertshaw wasn’t just looking to assist her teammates — she caught Manitoba off guard with a setter dump which got the team, and the crowd, buzzing with excitement, allowing the team to continue their lead 12–7 and forcing another Manitoba timeout. The Bisons never regained the small lead they had early in the set due to UBC’s impeccable serve receive, blocking and offense and were eventually squashed in the last set by a Vermette kill, 25–22.
Saturday’s game saw UBC dominate the service line with aces and put down as many kills as Manitoba, but the Bisons’ defence outlasted UBC’s, with them garnering 75 digs, while UBC got 61. Manitoba won the second, fourth and fifth sets (25–23, 27–25, 25–17, 25–22, 15–10) to hand the ‘Birds their first loss of the year.
Over the weekend, libero Kacey Jost led the team in digs with 35 and Cossarini led in blocks with 9.
UBC’s changemaker was outside hitter Grewal — who was named the CW Women’s Volleyball Player of the Week due to her standout performance over the weekend. She led the team in kills and aces with 26 and 12 respectively over the weekend.
“War Memorial is our home gym so of course when we’re here, we bring as much as we can,” said Grewal. “We’re here to have fun, but also to bring our best and I think everyone did a great job of that … Our team had so much fight.”
After a bye weekend, the Thunderbirds will play against the Trinity Western University Spartans at the Langley Events Centre on February 1, and at War Memorial Gym on February 2 for UBC’s annual Pride Night.