T-Birds battle to four-set victory over Heat – University of British Columbia
VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (9-6) dropped the opening set, but bounced back to earn a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-15, 25-21) victory over the UBC Okanagan Heat (4-11) at War Memorial Gym. Michael Dowhaniuk put up a team-high 15 kills and added six blocks for the T-Birds, Gerard Murray had nine kills and nine total blocks with three aces, Reeve Gingera tallied 12 kills, and James Vincett returned to the lineup to add a season-best seven kills in the win.
“I think the big thing was just gutting out this win,” said UBC head coach Mike Hawkins as the ‘Birds continue to jockey for positioning in the competitive Canada West standings and welcomed a few players back into the lineup. “Neither side played pretty tonight, and those games are tricky. Sometimes when you score points it almost feeling relieving because you don’t feel like you’re really gaining traction. Credit to UBCO, they played well and definitely pushed us tonight. It was nice for us to be calm in the tough moments and pull this one out. Having bodies available is really big for training, and [Vincett] does such a good job of being a presence on the floor. Obviously, he’s a big dude, but he imposes himself in the game. This is his first game in months and months, and it’s awesome to have him back. We expect that he’ll keep getting better and better.”
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) January 14, 2023
Renn Petryk led the Heat with eight kills, Teo Ardanaz racked up six kills and seven total blocks, and Seba Manuel added six kills in the loss.
Down early in the first set, UBC pulled within three on a Murray kill at 16-13 Heat and drew even at 17-17 on a string of Murray blocks. Weststrate came up with a big block of his own for a 21-19 Heat lead that they carried through to 25-21 opening set victory.
The ‘Birds raced out to a 6-1 lead in the second set, but UBCO battled back and made it a one-point game after an Ardanaz block at 10-9 ‘Birds. A T-Bird error gave the Heat a 14-13 edge before Dowhaniuk tied it up at 21-21 and a Mason Greves block put UBC ahead one. Dowhaniuk earned another crucial kill and teamed up with Murray on a block for a set point at 24-21. Zach van Geel and Ardanaz extended the set with back-to-back blocks, but Murray closed out the set with a kill, 25-23.
Murray was back at it in the third, lifting UBC to a 16-14 lead and widening the lead by dialing up an ace at 20-14. Vincett unloaded from the middle for a set point, and Dowhaniuk capped off the set 25-15.
Gingera cracked a kill off the block for a 16-12 T-Bird advantage in the fourth, and Dowhaniuk scored with a cross-court kill at 22-18. Ashton South kept the Heat within three on a kill and the visitors trailed by two at 23-21. Gingera responded with a kill down the line and Murray ended it on a block at 25-21.
The ‘Birds will look to sweep the Heat on Saturday night at 6:45 p.m. (PT) inside War Memorial Gym to close out their homestand and extend their win streak to three matches.