VANCOUVER — Canada West volleyball returns to War Memorial Gym as your UBC Thunderbirds (3-3) host the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack (1-3) this weekend; friday january 14and at 7:30 p.m. (PT) and Saturday, January 15and at 4:30 p.m. (PT).
The extended holiday break presents unique challenges, but the T-Birds are looking to start 2022 on the right foot.
“The second half means you can start from scratch,” said UBC head coach mike hawkin. “This may be the breath of fresh air you need. We’re going into this year with a clean slate, looking to position ourselves properly for the playoffs and into a long playoff push.”
The T-Birds return to conference play after sharing an early December game in Kelowna against UBC Okanagan. In the weekend opener, the ‘Birds dug deep after losing the first frame (19-25), then bounced back and dominated the rest of Friday night, beating the Heat in three straight sets (25 -13, 25-16, 25-21) taking the win 3-1. coltyn liu led the way with 14 wins, while Mason Greaves distributed 44 assists in the evening.
Heading into Saturday’s game with momentum, the T-Birds fought off home crowd energy and a few errors as they lost a 3-0 decision (23-25, 17-25, 23-25). Cole Brandsma led UBC with 13 kills, three digs and a service ace.
Progressing and developing through the first half of the season was a major focus for the Birds. After battling a difficult pre-season rife with injuries, bringing in new players was key in Hawkins’ approach.
“Essentially, we’ve added two separate recruiting classes. The 2020 class haven’t had the opportunity to play, and the 2021 class are looking like true first years, this was their first exposure to Canada West. James Vincett and Mason Greaves played a lot for first year players, we are delighted with how all of our young athletes performed. »
Thompson Rivers enters the weekend two games behind UBC in the West Division standings. Starting the season losing four games in a row, the Wolfpack came close with an important 3-2 win over UBCO in their last outing on November 13.and (19-25, 19-25, 25-18, 28-26, 24-22).
Due to rescheduled matches, this weekend’s action will be their first competition in just under two months. The extended period makes the game plan difficult for TRU and head coach Pat Hennelly.
“Pat is doing a good job deploying different formations and playing hot hand,” Hawkins explained. “In addition, this team has not played a match since November 13and. It’s hard to guess or predict where they are, what queues they use, and what trends they have. It’s a unique challenge to prepare for a team that hasn’t played for two months.”
Matt Neaves (57), coltyn liu (56), and Michel Dowhaniuk (50) provided a consistent three-man attack entering the new year leading the “Birds in kills”. Neaves leads the team in total points, with 82.5 points. First year passer Mason Greaves continues to be an important part of the team, linking his peers for a squad of 140 assists. On the defensive side, Gerard Murray held on with 21 blocks, and coltyn liu leads with 30 digs.
A reminder that all tickets to UBC games are free this year, but you must pre-register here.
All matches can be watched live on Canada West TV presented by Coop.