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UBC women and TWU men win 2019 U Sports titles

 

  • Women's summary (by U Sports):

The UBC Thunderbirds women’s team faced plenty of adversity and had their share of doubters this season, but not once did they ever stop believing.

UBC entered the 2019 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship as underdogs and the No.8 seed, but they walked out of the Saville Community Sports Centre in Edmonton as national champions for the second time in three years, after a thrilling five-set come-from-behind victory over the defending national champion Ryerson Rams (14-25, 20-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-11) Sunday night.

Sophomore outside hitter Kiera Van Ryk led UBC with 24 kills and 13 digs and fourth-year middle Tessa Davis provided a big performance with 15 kills and nine digs for the Thunderbirds.


Senior middle Theanna Vernon led Ryerson with 12 kills, two aces and three digs in her final game of her university career.

“I’m so happy and grateful for the work and ability to get this job done. Day 1 we were only a couple of points from being on the other side of the bracket,” said Thunderbirds head coach Doug Reimer.

“Today it was so impressive for us to hang in there with Ryerson playing so well. To find and get some answers and hang in there long enough to get the job done. I’m just so proud. We’ve been talking about the need for our team to be resilient and that was resiliency personified in my opinion.”

Ryerson entered the championship final red-hot having swept both Calgary and Alberta and they looked even more dominant in the opening set, beating UBC 25-14. The T-Birds’ fortunes didn’t get much better in the second set, dropping 25-20, but UBC never counted themselves out.
If they could win just one set against Ryerson, how would they handle adversity for the first time in the tournament?

“It was a change of mindset,” said Van Ryk, who took home Tournament MVP honours. “We just felt we had nothing to lose, and just fighting as hard as we can and show them what we’ve got.

“We knew it would be a fight and a long game. We know if we play our game, the sky is the limit and we knew they couldn’t stop us if we played our game.”

After grinding out the third-set win, UBC was very sharp in the fourth set, producing an attacking percentage of .406. UBC leaned on their MVP and reigning U SPORTS Player of the Year and Van Ryk came through with 11 of her 24 kills in the final two sets, including eight to send it to the fifth set.


In a battle of the “Killer Vs,” Van Ryk outperformed Ryerson’s dynamic duo of Vernon and third-year outside hitter Lauren Veltman.

“She’s carrying a very heavy load offensively, and she did an outstanding job,” said Reimer. “Ryerson defended well in a lot of situation and she kept going after it.”

It wasn’t just Van Ryk, who came through in the clutch for UBC on their road to gold. Davis was a big presence on the court, and her 15 kills was the most she recorded all season. Fourth-year outside hitter Anna Price, who missed the first half of the season due to injury had her best game of the season with seven kills and seven digs.

“There were a lot of other pieces needed at other times,” said Reimer. “Olivia (Furlan) did a good job of getting our middles engaged and others delivered. The last half of the match we were able to execute the game plan better.”

For Ryerson, losing their chance at repeating as national champions definitely hurts, but their program once again showed they belong on the national stage and will continue to be a force in the future.

“There are a lot of thoughts going through my mind right now, but my main thoughts are with my group,” said Rams head coach Dustin Reid. “We’ve been through a lot this year, and I’m so proud of how we conducted ourselves in this tournament.”

The Rams looked in full control to win their second straight championship, but when UBC gained life with the win in the third set, Ryerson couldn’t recover.

“We got tentative and nervous trying to protect a lead we earned. We have a lot of youth on our team, and it was evident,” said Reid. “UBC did a great job at making adjustments, and we weren’t able to catch up. At the end of the day, we weren’t able to play as aggressive as we wanted to in those latter three sets to score enough points.”

Full women’s info: https://usports.ca/en/championships/volleyball/f

  • Men’s summary (by U Sports):

The Trinity Western Spartans earned their third national title in four years at the 2019 U SPORTS Men’s Volleyball Championship Presented by Hôtel Universel Québec, defeating the top-seeded Brandon Bobcats in three sets (25-23, 25-21, 25-19) on Sunday afternoon in Quebec City in front of 2,000 fans.

One of the most successful programs the nation has seen in years, Trinity Western captured its sixth Tantramar trophy since 2006. As for the Bobcats, their first national title will have to wait as they return home with silver, their best result since 2013.

For a third time in as many games in this tournament, outside hitter Eric Loeppky was selected Player of the Game for Trinity Western with 11 kills and four aces bringing his total up to 12.

"I’m very happy. We let last year slip away,” said Loeppky, who was also named the 2019 championship MVP, in reference to the Spartans’ 2018 championship final defeat to UBC. “And coming in losing that Canada West banner last week, it just feels amazing to put in the work and get the result you wanted.”

“Last year we lost in the final, and it stings worse than any other loss there is, so we weren’t going to let another opportunity get away. It’s so hard to get here, you want to make sure you play well,” added Trinity Western head coach Ben Josephson. “Last weekend, when we lost to Brandon, we didn’t feel like we played our best ball and the team was just begging for another opportunity to play those guys and tonight they played fantastic.”

Seth Friesen had 10 kills out of his team’s 28, taking home Brandon’s Player of the Game honours for a second time in the championship.

“Obviously not the result we were looking for. Hats off to Trinity (Western), they played great today.  They put us under so much pressure with their serve,” said Brandon head coach Grant Wilson. “We played catch up all day and came close a couple times, but just couldn’t get over the hump. It’s a tremendous season for us. And to get back to the national championship, it was a rewarding accomplishment for our group.”

 

Full men’s Championships info here: https://usports.ca/en/championships/volleyball/m

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Trinity Western University