Danielle Doiron, Bisons Athletics
WINNIPEG – The No. 6 UBC Thunderbirds are the Canada West Men's Volleyball Final Four bronze medalists, after a straight-set win (25-20, 25-19, 25-18) over the No. 4 University of Alberta Golden Bears at Investors Group Athletic Centre on Saturday, March 11 evening.
UBC landed in the game after a 3-0 semi-final loss to the University of Manitoba Bisons on Friday night. Alberta lost 3-2 Friday in a hard-fought semi-final match against the Trinity Western University Spartans.
"It feels great," Thunderbirds head coach Kerry MacDonald said after the win. "It's a good bounce-back match after what was a tough one for us yesterday against the U of M, so it was great to see the guys come out tonight and really respond.
"This group has been a really committed, really dedicated group. Kind of steady improvement every week has been our motto all year. After last night, I think we were really questioning if we had been getting better, but I think tonight we showed what we're capable of. I'm really happy with how the guys performed."
Third-year setter Byron Keturakis was named player of the match for UBC, while Brett Walsh, a veteran right-side hitter, picked up the honour for Alberta.
"I thought we did a really good job breaking them down," MacDonald said. "I thought both our setter and Irvan Brar, our power hitter, were exceptional for us tonight. When we needed big plays, both of those guys stepped up."
The closely fought opening set saw a total seven service errors, as both UBC and Alberta struggled to gain a solid footing. Alex McMullin and Arran Chambers each notched two kills in the opening rallies to help the Golden Bears to an early 6-4 lead, but the Thunderbirds were just getting warmed up.
UBC won the next four rallies in a row and was up by a modest 16-12 at the technical timeout. Alberta repeatedly brought the set within a single point, but the Golden Bears never regained the lead, and UBC took the first 25-20.
The Thunderbird offence was relentless in the next set. UBC again led 16-12 at the technical timeout and later took the second 25-19. Perhaps most notably, four UBC players – Byron Keturakis, Irvan Brar, Joel Regehr and Danny Aspenlieder – combined to serve five aces, while the Golden Bears managed only eight kills in the entire set.
For the third set in a row, the Thunderbirds led the Golden Bears 16-12 at the technical timeout. But this time, UBC only gave up six more points before a Brar kill won the set and the match for the Thunderbirds 25-18.
Set Scores: (UBC listed first): 25-20, 25-19, 25-18
UBC: Irvan Brar (12)
AB: Kevin Proudfoot (10) and Alex McMullin (10)
UBC: Byron Keturakis (35)
AB: Brett Walsh (28)
UBC: Mat Guidi (10)
AB: Brett Walsh (7)
About Canada West Championships:
Canada West is the premier athletic conference in the country and is home to champion student-athletes that excel on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. Canada West and its 17 member institutions commit to a student-athlete experience where competitive excellence, scholarship and sportsmanship contribute equally towards moulding outstanding graduates and community leaders.
The 2017 Canada West Volleyball Final Four is proudly sponsored by Mikasa Sports Canada. Since 1997, Mikasa Sports Canada, through Catsports Inc., has distributed quality products to better satisfy the demand of Canadian athletes and is the official ball supplier for Canada West volleyball.
Canada West – Training leaders, building champions.