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T-Birds down TRU to sweep weekend

T-Birds down TRU to sweep weekend

The UBC Thunderbirds (5-3) defeated the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack (1-5) 3-0 (33-31, 25-18, 25-18) on a foggy Saturday evening at War Memorial Gym to sweep their first series of 2022.

“I think defensively we had better intent,” said UBC head coach Mike Hawkins after the ‘Birds took care of business on home court. “Looking at the box score though, we still had too many errors. We’re going to be aggressive from the service line, but there’s a fine line between aggressive and reckless and both teams kind of flirted with it all weekend. Also, our attack errors…we’re better than the efficiency we showed this weekend and now we have the bye weekend to clean some things up.”

Matt Neaves and Gerard Murray put up 11 kills each in the victory, with Mason Greves racking up 31 assists and two kills for the T-Birds. Samuel Elgert led the WolfPack with nine kills and four total blocks, while Anton Napolitano had six kills and 13 assists with seven digs in the loss.
 Michael Dowhaniuk vs Thompson Rivers, Jan. 15, 2022

A Tyson Smith ace put UBC up 8-6 in the first, but Napolitano tied it up at 9-9 before the ‘Birds carried a 16-13 edge into the technical timeout on a Neaves kill. Napolitano evened it up once again at 16-16 with a kill and Thundersky WalkingBear gave the visitors a lead at 20-19 before Napolitano stretched it to 22-19. A Duncan Clark ace brought UBC within one and a Brandsma kill knotted it at 22-22. A net violation by the WolfPack gave the T-Birds their seventh set point that Cole Brandsma finished with a kill from the left side at 33-31.  

The Thunderbirds roared out to a 14-8 lead in the second set and Michael Dowhaniuk painted the corner with an ace at 16-9. TRU responded with a 3-0 run, but Murray came up with an ace and Neaves unloaded on a kill to make it 20-13. A Dowhaniuk kill gave the ‘Birds a set point and Mason Greves capped off the frame at 25-18.

Dowhaniuk broke an 12-12 tie in the third set with a kill and Neaves gave the Thunderbirds a 14-12 edge. Sam Flowerday scored a kill from the back row at 19-16 UBC, but Murray had back-to-back kills for a five-point cushion. Murray cranked another kill for a 23-17 lead and the 25-18 on a service error.

TRU return home next weekend to host the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades on Friday and Saturday in Kamloops, while UBC now has a bye week before hosting the powerhouse Trinity Western Spartans on January 28th and 29th.

“Getting healthy will be step one,” said Hawkins. “It was great that we were able to get two wins with a bit of a funky lineup, but it’ll be nice getting Coltyn Liu back, it’ll be nice getting James Vincett back, and then we can refine our typical system. The nice thing is that we have evidence that if we need to throw out a non-traditional lineup, the guys will be ready for it.”

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