Aneesa Heatherington, UBC Thunderbirds
VANCOUVER -- In front of a lively crowd at War Memorial Gym, UBC shutout Winnipeg in their home opener to improve to 3-0 on the season.
The Thunderbird offence proved to be too much for the Wesman to handle, with UBC firing almost 50 kills and a 0.273 hitting percentage to take the match in three straight sets (25-15, 26-24, and 25-21).
Danielle Brisebois and Siobhan Finan came up big for the 'Birds, finishing with a combined 26.5 points for UBC. Brisebois continued her relentless attack this year with 13 kills, a 0.385 hitting percentage and chipped in a team-high six digs. The leftie hitter Finan racked up 11 kills and added two blocks for the Thunderbirds.
After a 25-15 win in the first, it was a tight finish to the second set as an Emily Cicon block put UBC up 24-21 – but the Wesman fought off two set points before Brisebois got her sixth kill of the night to give the T-Birds their second game point. Victoria Behie closed out the set with her second of eight kills in the victory.
UBC fell behind in the third set, but clawed back at 18-18 to force a Winnipeg time-out. Two thundering Brisebois kills gave the 'Birds a 24-21 lead before a Wesman miss sealed their fate.
"Even though score-wise it was tight, I never really felt anxious on the court," said Finan "so I think when it came to 24-24 in the second set, we thought 'Oh, just two more points. We can do that.'"
Winnipeg's Karissa Kuhr led the way for the Wesman with nine kills and a .250 hitting percentage in the loss.
Finan feels there are a few things to tweak moving forward.
"When we throw different people into the match, we just need to keep our same calm confidence as a group and put more of a gap between us and them."
UBC head coach Doug Reimer agreed.
"We got a little sloppy and in the second set we made a number of changes. We're going to have to grow through that. What wasn't good was letting so many points slip away – it shouldn't have been that close."
Heading into the second half of the doubleheader Saturday at 5 p.m. PT, Reimer is holding his players accountable.
"The challenge tomorrow is more individual, how will they take ownership?"
IMAGE CREDIT: Rich Lam/UBC Thunderbirds