When you think about Canada West Women’s Volleyball rivalries, one of the first things that should come to mind is the UBC Thunderbirds and the Alberta Pandas. The two teams matched up once again in the first semi-final matchup of the night, in a 2017 National Gold Medal rematch. Last three times these teams faced, November 17th and 18th, where UBC took game 1 (3-0), and Alberta took game 2 (3-1). Before that, was last seasons National Gold Medal game, where the Thunderbirds came out on top 3-1 to be crowned the new Champions.
Set 1: 25-19 Alberta
Set 2: 26-24 Alberta
Set 3: 25-19 UBC
Set 4: 25-15 Alberta
The first set though, the Pandas came out firing on all cylinders and were all over the reigning champs. Timely blocks, hard hitting, solid defence, and capitalizing on the Thunderbird mistakes allowed them to break away and run with a lead, on their way to a 25-19 win in the first set.
The second set just proved at how much pressure, excitement, and emotion can build when two teams play each other as much as the Pandas and Thunderbirds do. After Kiera Van Ryk (UBC) tied it at 24-24 with a huge kill into the open court, the Pandas were forced to call a timeout to settle down. It seemed to work, as two quick Pandas points gave them a 2-0 lead with a 26-24 win.
No sweep happening here in this game, as the Thunderbirds rally back for a 25-19 win, extending this game to at least a fourth set. It was their turn to capitalize on mistakes, and turn them into a big win for their momentum.
The early stages of this set was all Pandas. Riding a six straight point wave, they jumped out to an early big lead, all the way to the technical timeout, leading 16-10.A big block by Shauntelle Hogg (Alberta) brought them to match point, only leading her to a combo block for the win, 25-15. The Pandas knock off the reigning champions to advance to play for gold.
The Pandas were led by:
- Kory White: 13 kills, 4 total blocks
- Erin Corbett: 10 kills, 3 total blocks
- Eryn Orysiuk: 32 assists, 3 service aces
The Thunderbirds were led by:
- Kiera Van Ryk: 21 kills, 5 service aces
- Alessandra Gentile: 36 assists, 3 aces
The Alberta Pandas will now move on to the Gold Medal game tomorrow at 4pm EDT and will play the winner of the Ryerson Rams and Calgary Dinos.
The UBC Thunderbirds will now move on to the Bronze Medal game tomorrow at 1pm EDT and will play the loser of the Ryerson Rams and Calgary Dinos.
Photos courtesy: Alex D’Addese/ Canadian University Sports Network