'Birds book ticket to Canada West final, national championship

'Birds book ticket to Canada West final, national championship

Connor Hood, Bears and Pandas Athletics

EDMONTON - The No.3 UBC Thunderbirds upset the No. 2 Trinity Western Spartans in their Canada West semifinal, advancing to the conference final with a 3-1 win (25-19, 19-25, 25-12, 25-21), Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
 
The UBC Thunderbirds will now face the No. 1 ranked, and host Alberta Pandas in the Canada West Final, who earlier in the day knocked off the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-0. UBC has been the only team this season to defeat the Alberta Pandas, winning both games against Alberta in Vancouver.
 
The conference will also see a new champion crowned tomorrow in Edmonton. The two-time defending champion Trinity Western Spartans will now have to play for bronze against UBCO, and the final U SPORTS Championship spot.

Danielle Brisebois finished with a game-high 20 kills on a staggering 42 attempts for UBC. Victoria Behie (12) and Juliana Kaufmanis also spun in double-digit kills, while Alessandra Gentile scored a game-high 40 assists.
 
The Spartans were led by Canada West all-star Sophie Carpentier, who led TWU with 17 kills on 41 attempts. The Spartans, however, were plagued by inconsistent offence, finishing with 14 fewer kills and seven more errors on Friday.

The rhythmic offensive issues were prevalent early, as the higher-seeded Spartans managed a lowly 3.3 attack percent in the first set. By comparison, the Thunderbirds capitalized on 37% of their attacks, taking the first set by six.
 
The Spartans offence caught fire in the second, as they improved their attack by over 400 points. Carpentier spun in eight of her 17 kills in the second on just 13 attacks, while Elizabeth Wendel and Brie O'Reilly scored two each. The teams played back-and-forth all set, however a 7-1 early lead by Trinity Western was too much to overcome, as they took the second 25-19.
 
That surge was short-lived, as the attack woes returned for TWU in the third. The Spartans managed just seven kills on 28 attacks, compared to UBC's 13 on 26. Errors also cost TWU, as they recorded eight in the third, and a whopping 10 in the fourth.

UBC took complete advantage, as five kills from Brisebois and four for Kaufmanis scored them a substantial 25-12 third-set win.
 
Another close set was overcome by errors, as a 7-6 TWU lead in the fourth quickly evaporated. A 13-2 Thunderbird run midway through the fourth all but sealed the semifinal win, as three more Brisebois kills on top of three Wendel errors iced the 25-21 set, and 3-1 overall win.
 
The Canada West bronze medal match is slated for 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, while the Alberta vs UBC gold match is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Saville Community Sports Centre.