Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics
EDMONTON — A string of errors from the home side started in the middle of the second set like a slow trickle of water.
Soon it became a flood of momentum going the wrong way for the MacEwan Griffins.
UBC never looked back from the middle of the second set onward, cruising to a comfortable 3-0 (26-24, 25-16, 25-16) win over the Griffins on Friday night at the City Centre Campus gym.
"We made way too many errors; that was the whole difference," said MacEwan head coach Ken Briggs, whose team falls to 3-8 on the Canada West season with the defeat. "Once we let them in and let them get going, get on a run, then an experienced team like that is going to key on it."
Indeed, they did as by the middle of the third set, UBC was firing on all cylinders, generating a variety of attacks from all sides of the court that overwhelmed the Griffins.
"The setter (Alessandra Gentile) did a good job with the offensive balance," said UBC head coach Doug Reimer, whose team improves to 6-3 on the campaign. "I think we passed well enough. I thought MacEwan did a good job as well. I thought they defended hit balls well, but we got a second crack at it, so that helped our offensive variety."
Danielle Brisebois led the Thunderbirds with 13 kills on an impressive .500 hitting percentage, adding a team-leading eight digs and five aces. Although many of her kills overwhelmed the Griffins, she even got some luck like in the third set when she whiffed on a smash from the back row that turned into a perfect tip over the block.
Siobhan Finan and Emily Cicon added six kills each for the T-Birds.
Kate Rozendaal replied with a big game for the Griffins with 12 kills on a.360 percentage, adding seven digs.
"We wasted what I think was Kate's best match as a Griffin – in terms of all around," said Briggs. "She did everything really well and I thought we wasted it."
The Griffins probably deserved a better fate in the first set. At the very least it was winnable, but UBC got the late points when it mattered, scoring a 26-24 win when Cassidy Kinsella's smash, intended to go off the block, went wide of the court instead.
"The first set we were struggling defensively … giving up too many easy points," said Reimer, whose team found their stride after netting the opening game. "We tightened that up a little bit, but mainly our offence started to run a little bit more smoothly. It's always a combination, but some better serving from us – some serving runs that we didn't give away – so we kept putting more pressure on MacEwan."
Prolonged strings of errors – a problem that plagued MacEwan, particularly early in the season – snuck into the Griffins' game in the second set. The first nine points were played dead even before UBC went off on a 5-0 run on a series of mistakes from the home side. The visitors led 16-10 at the technical timeout after a MacEwan net violation and cruised to a 25-16 win, clinched on a missed MacEwan serve.
"That's a big one. Volleyball's a game of momentum," said Briggs. "It's always trying to reduce those strings."
It just didn't seem like MacEwan had the fortitude left to come back as UBC seemingly scored at will at times in the third set, mixing in a great combination of hits from all sides. It added up to them cruising to a 25-16 win, closed out when Haley Gilfillan - who had held court for three straight serves – put her offering into the net.
"I thought this is the most undisciplined we've been system-wise," said Briggs. "The first set, I felt, was ours. There were the things like a net touch and then … 'what's your job in this?' I think we seemed mentally fatigued. I don't want to make excuses – they just travelled, so there is no excuse.
"We didn't think the game very well at all."
The Griffins will try to rebound, like they did last weekend in winning the second-half of their series against visiting Thompson Rivers, when they again host UBC on Saturday (5 p.m., CCC).