T-Birds win in four for series split vs Huskies – University of British Columbia

VANCOUVER – The UBC Thunderbirds (8-6) came from behind to earn a 3-1 (21-25, 25-23, 25-19, 25-20) bounce-back victory over the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (9-5) at War Memorial Gym for a crucial Canada West series split.
Rookie Reeve Gingera had another impressive showing in his second start with the blue and gold with 10 kills, four aces and four blocks, Gerard Murray led the ‘Birds with 11 kills and six blocks, and setter Mason Greves put up 39 assists and eight digs in the win.

“We started off with seven attack errors that came at really costly times,” said UBC head coach Mike Hawkins after the T-Birds regrouped on Saturday night and battled through four tight sets. “As the match went on, we limited our errors and followed our gameplan. We knew that tactically we needed to be very proficient to beat this team, and that’s what happened. I thought our middles did a really good job understanding how to be available and what shots to make. I also thought Mason set one of the best games he’s set in a UBC uniform.”
Levi Olson put up a team-high 16 kills for Saskatchewan, as Dylan Mortensen added 11 kills and seven digs in the four-set loss.
The Huskies took a 13-8 lead in the first with a Jake Rapin ace, but Conaire Taub ripped a kill off the block to tie it up at 19-19 in a tight opening frame. Olson cranked a kill for a 23-21 lead and Saskatchewan took the set, 25-21, on a UBC error.

In an equally close second set, Dowhaniuk brought the ‘Birds within two at 20-18 before a Murray kill tightened it up to 21-20. Gingera dropped an ace to tie it on the next point and evened the score again at 22-22. The rookie then broke a 23-23 draw with a kill from the right side and the T-Birds captured the set, 25-23, on a Mortensen error.
UBC led early in the third, punctuated by a huge Murray kill from the middle and a Dowhaniuk back row attack for a 15-9 advantage. Conaire Taub lifted the T-Birds to a 23-18 lead and Gingera closed it out at 25-19.

Murray came up with a big block on Mortensen for an 18-14 fourth-set lead and UBC continued to click through to a 25-20 win on a Dowhaniuk dagger.
The ‘Birds continue their homestand on Friday, January 13th, at 7:45 p.m. (PT) and Saturday, January 14th, at 6:45 p.m. (PT) as they square off against the UBC Okanagan Heat (4-10) inside War Memorial Gym. Saskatchewan will host the second-seeded Trinity Western Spartans (11-3) next Friday and Saturday evening in Saskatoon.
“The beginning of the second semester is always tough because you’re trying to find momentum coming off of a break,” added Hawkins. “Going down to California, the experience was great, but the volleyball wasn’t awesome. So, for us to be able to close this weekend with a win I think it might catapult us for the rest of the semester.”

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