VANCOUVER – The U SPORTS No.1-ranked UBC Thunderbirds (16-2) are set to renew one of the great rivalries in recent school history when they square off against the U SPORTS No.4-ranked Trinity Western Spartans (16-2) in a home-and-home series this week. The Spartans are hosting Thursday’s game at the Langley Event Centre at 5:00 p.m. (PT) while Friday’s game at War Memorial Gym is starting at 6:00 p.m. (PT).
Friday’s game is also a part of Pride Night at War Memorial. The event is being presented in partnership with the Vancouver Gay Volleyball Association. Fans are encouraged to dress up colourfully for the Pride celebration!
“Pride Night is a special event for our UBC volleyball teams,” said UBC head coach Doug Reimer. “We take this night to recognize the importance of continuing the work to drive positive social change and inclusivity. We have vibrant 2SLGBTQIA+ communities in Vancouver and on campus and our teams will be supporting QMUNITY, a Vancouver non-profit that works to improve queer, trans, and two-spirit lives through services, connection and leadership.”
?? WVB | With the T-Birds hosting their annual Pride Night?????? this Friday at War Memorial vs TWU, fifth-year libero Kacey Jost tells us what the event means to her and her squad
— UBC Thunderbirds (@ubctbirds) January 31, 2024
The history between the UBC and Trinity Western women’s volleyball programs is extensive and their combined recent dominance remarkable, no other school has won a U SPORTS Championship in the past five years. In fact, the last time these teams met was in an unforgettable, five set thriller for the 2022-23 national banner on the T-Birds’ home floor. In that match, the blue and gold completed their run from the #7 seed to defeat the top-seeded Canada West Champion Spartans by scoring the final six points in a fifth set comeback to win 15-12.
“I don’t spend time thinking back to last year, both teams graduated a number of key players,” commented Reimer. “What brings extra energy and meaning to these matches is that we have had a lot of great matches with Trinity over the past few years, basically every time we have stepped on the court. I know we respect them and know we have to bring a high level of play. Secondly, they are obviously key matches in the standings.”
The T-Birds and Spartans are currently tied atop Canada West and have already clinched spots in the playoffs. However, there is just a two match difference between the Metro Vancouver rivals and the fifth place Alberta Pandas (14-4) meaning a sweep one way or another this weekend could set one team up for home court advantage throughout the playoffs and leave the other team needing to win three series on the road.
The Spartans enter the weekend on a four match winning streak, with their last (and only) losses coming in a sweep at Manitoba in mid-January. The T-Birds also recently fell to the U Sports No.3-ranked Bisons in a five set nail-biter at home two weeks ago after picking up a 3-0 victory the night before, meaning the ‘Birds still narrowly took the series on points.
“It was a great and tough weekend of volleyball between two of the top teams,” reflected Reimer. “It had great intensity fueled by strong defence and some great offensive performances.”
There are plenty of new faces ready to square off in the latest chapter of the T-Birds-Spartans rivalry, though both teams have maintained their level of excellence and developed new stars amid the turnover.
“They have had a great season to date as evidenced by their strong record and the fact that first place in the conference is on the line,” concluded Reimer. “Kaylee Plouffe and Maryn Bolden are both having very strong offensive seasons, they are in the top four in all key offensive categories. Plouffe has the highest hitting percentage in the conference by a wide margin.”
UBC’s Akash Grewal sits second in the conference in hitting percentage and leads Canada West in aces per set by a wide margin as well.
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