Kayla Kievits, Cougar Athletics
CALGARY – Ringing in December the Mount Royal Cougars men's volleyball team took on the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds on Kenyon Court. Unfortunately, the Cougars were unable to keep up in attacks and the Thunderbirds came out victorious taking the match in three straight sets. The final score of the sets were 25-20, 25-16 and 25-20.
The Thunderbirds strength came from their success in the front row. They had a total of 41 kills throughout the match, while the Cougars only had 21. Game leaders in attacks were Tyler Schmidt for the Cougars with 11, and Irvan Brar for the Thunderbirds with a total of nine. The Cougars had the advantage on serving with a serve percentage of 0.828 compared to the Thunderbirds 0.767. The Thunderbirds also lead in side-out percentages in all three sets.
The first set started with the Cougars serving. The Thunderbirds quickly gained control taking a two-point lead. Their strong presence at the net on both offence and defense allowed them to keep their lead for the remainder of the game. Both teams utilized their back row attackers with pipe and C balls. Thunderbirds middle hitter Jordan Deshane led the teams in kills with a total of four. The Cougars were able to keep a tight game up to the technical timeout, as they were only down by two, 14-16. With attack and service errors from the Cougars, the Thunderbirds extended their lead. Struggling to return the spin serves from UBC, Mount Royal fell short of a win as Thunderbirds Danny Aspenlieder served an ace to win the set 25-20.
Rolling on the momentum of the first set win Thunderbirds remained dominant in the second set. Once again they took an early lead over the Cougars. Things got shaken up as a call discrepancy occurred, between the linesmen and the referee. It gave the Cougars a chance to regroup. Cougars called a successful timeout as the Thunderbirds led 7-11, allowing them to regain control of the serve. The Cougars found a groove as Tyler Schmidt put out attacks from the right side, leading the teams kills with a total of eight. Despite Schmidt's attacks the Cougars were unable to close the gap, as the Thunderbirds were up 16-11 at the technical timeout. The Thunderbirds carried the momentum, proving to be more successful in their attacks. They took the set 15-16, leading two sets to none.
The star of the third set was the Thunderbirds outside hitter Keith West. The Thunderbirds found success in feeding him the ball, as he switched each attack between a cross-court hit, line ball or a tip keeping the Cougars on their toes. Continuing the trend of the first two sets the Thunderbirds gained control of the game early on, keeping the Cougars on their toes. A series of missed serves, and on the net calls from the Thunderbirds gave the Cougars a chance to bring themselves back into the game. At the technical timeout the Thunderbirds led 16-13. The second half of the set was filled with strong rallies from both teams. The Cougars Schmidt had the block of the game, single-handedly shutting down an outside attack. It was Thunderbirds West that helped ring in the victory with three successful attacks from the outside two of which were tips over the block. The Thunderbirds took the set 25-20, and won the Match.
Thunderbirds Head Coach, Kerry MacDonald said, "I think we passed and served really well, which allowed our offence to be consistent. There was also a good team dynamic, no one player stood out over the other."
The two teams will face off again tomorrow Dec. 2, 2017 on Kenyon Court. The Cougars are hungry for a win after the disappointing results of tonight's match. Tune in at 4 p.m. to find out if they can end the weekend with a split, or if the Thunderbirds will claim both matches.