VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds return to War Memorial Gym this weekend for a highly anticipated game against the undefeated Trinity Western Spartans on Friday, January 28.and at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and Saturday, January 29and at 6:30 p.m. (PT).
TWU (8-0) has yet to stumble atop the Western Division this season, but the T-Birds (5-3) have an opportunity to close in on top spot with a strong showing in front of their hometown stalwarts . It’s a familiar game that was last seen in late November when the ‘Birds traveled to Langley and were defeated 3-0, 3-1. The T-Birds are thrilled to welcome the nation’s number one ranked team to campus and look forward to harnessing the special energy of War Memorial Gym.
The T-Birds are eager to return to the field after sweeping the TRU Wolfpack before their bye last weekend. The fans were there on Friday January 14and which saw the ‘Birds claim a thrilling victory in five sets. After dropping a competitive first frame, the ‘Birds bounced back by winning the next two sets. TRU’s resilience helped secure a 23-25 victory in the fourth set leading to a thrilling 15-13 final for the ‘Birds, who were flexible in their approach to moving players in and out of familiar positions . Fifth year libero Tyson Smith posted a career-high four kills while adding 11 digs. Matt Neaves led the way with 17 wins as Cole Brandsma posted a season-high 15 eliminations.
“I’m really happy with our resilience and our fight against TRU,” said UBC head coach mike hawkin. “Everyone has had to deal with it at some point this season, we were forced to run a unique roster due to COVID and injuries, but our guys fought hard and came away with two well deserved wins. TRU has played very hard both nights and forced us to play our best.Two wins against this type of opponent in these type of situations is great for building character and determination in our team.
The T-Birds wasted no time the next day, beating the Wolfpack 3-0 in straight sets (33-31, 25-18, 25-18). A weekend full of non-traditional queues did not stop the bird attack as Neaves and Gerard Murray each had 11 casualties while Mason Greaves delivered 31 assists in front of a grateful home crowd.
TWU plays among the top volleyball players in Canada, having swept the visiting UBCO Heat last weekend behind Brodie Hofer’s 39 kills. The Spartans were tested in their 3-2 victory on Friday, January 22, but dominated the following game by beating the Heat 3-0.
“We weren’t happy with our performance against the Spartans in the first season and we’ve seen immense growth in our team since then,” added Hawkins. “This is a team we know very well and we expect a tough battle from the first whistle on Friday night. Coach Josephson is doing a great job preparing his athletes to challenge our team and our systems, we anticipate to do the same against them. We expect a fight this weekend and are confident in our preparation.”
TWU’s .344 hitting percentage is the second-best in Canada West, so finding a way to neutralize their high-flying offense will be key to success for the T-Birds hoping to return to fourth year as an outside hitter. coltyn liu and first intermediate year James Vincett.
Tickets to T-Birds games are free this year, but you must register in advance here.
All games can be streamed live on Canada West TV presented by Coop