By Aaron Martin
VANCOUVER – On Seniors' Night at War Memorial Gym, the UBC Thunderbirds women's volleyball team (15-6) delivered a convincing straight-sets win over the Saskatchewan Huskies (9-12).
The final set scores read as 25-23, 25-13, and 25-17.
The 'Birds got terrific performances out of outside hitters Danielle Brisebois and Juliana Kaufmanis. Brisebois notched team-highs with 12 kills and nine digs, while Kaufmanis doled out her 10 kills at a remarkable attack efficiency rate of 0.625.
The 'Birds showed their quality right from the get-go, jumping out to a 5-1 lead just minutes into the contest.
One of the highlights of the first frame came with the T-Birds up 7-6, as a lengthy rally, which featured some terrific defending on both sides, ended in a kill from Kaufmanis.
Already with two to her credit, Brisebois added to her kill total to put the 'Birds up 15-12 midway through the set, placing a cheeky off-speed drop shot.
After Saskatchewan had notched three straight points to close the gap to 17-15, Alessandra Gentile laid out for a beautiful dig that made its way over the net and handcuffed the defence.
Try as they might, the 'Birds couldn't shake Saskatchewan, and a 6-0 run late in the frame, including three kills from LeDuc, had the visitors up 23-21.
The 'Birds didn't take long to get back on even footing, and then one better, as fifth-year senior Alissa Coulter displayed her impressive power by unleashing back-to-back-to-back kills.
A service ace from rookie Laura Worsley gave UBC the first set on the next ball, as the hosts took it 25-23.
Brisebois started out the second frame on fire, notching three kills and a block on UBC's first eight points, as the hosts stormed out to a 8-0 advantage.
Though the Huskies managed to get on the board soon after, they couldn't manage to slow down UBC's Ontarian star, as Brisebois added another three kills in short order, while the 'Birds found themselves up 11-3.
The Blue and Gold took a 16-6 lead into the technical timeout, and despite some pushback from Saskatchewan in the final stages of the frame, including a stretch of three consecutive kills from sophomore Stefan, the home side took the set by a comfortable 25-13 margin.
The Huskies came out with some bite in what would end up as the final stanza, getting out to an early 4-1 lead.
Kaufmanis delivered another highlight-reel play on the sixth point of the frame, delivering a beautiful kill from the backline that stopped the bleeding and left the 'Birds down just 4-2.
The 'Birds went on a 4-2 run of their own from there, and then took their first lead of the set on a rally that seemed like it went on for years. Both teams hit the deck several times to keep the ball in the air, and it finally ended of a mishit ball from Josie Leduc.
The 'Birds rode a 4-0 run to a 12-8 lead midway through the set, forcing Saskatchewan head coach Mark Dodds to call a timeout
That seemed to do the trick, as the Huskies came roaring back, as a 6-2 run brought the two sides to equal footing.
Sophomore Laura MacTaggart did her best to get the 'Birds back on top, as the Lacombe, Alta., native knocked down two straight blocks for points, and the 'Birds went into the technical timeout up 16-14. MacTaggart ended the contest with three kills, one behind team leader Ciara Hanly's four.
The final stretch of the last stanza was highlighted by a pair of kills from UBC senior Kelsey Clarke, as the T-Birds closed out the frame 25-17.
The 'Birds, already with a Canada West playoff spot locked up, will continue to jockey for seeding tomorrow, as they host the Huskies once more at War Memorial Gym. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. (PT) start.