VANCOUVER – The host UBC Thunderbirds came from behind to upset the No. 6 Manitoba Bisons 3-1 (20-25, 25-20, 25-16, 25-14) in an electrifying semi-final showdown at the 2023 U SPORTS Women’s Volleyball Championship inside War Memorial Gym. With the win, the No. 7-seeded T-Birds will play for their 13th national title on home court against the defending champion No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. (Pacific).
Cara Kovacs came up with a massive solo block for a slim 5-3 UBC lead in the first set and Elise Petit joined the block party with one of her own at 7-3. The Bisons bounced back to even the score at 11-11 with an Ella Gray kill that forced a T-Bird timeout and Manitoba pulled away with a late 5-0 run to help secure the opening set. Setter Kayla Oxland lifted the ‘Birds to a 13-6 lead in the second with back-to-back kills, as the home team carried a 19-9 cushion through to a set victory. Brynn Pasin put the Thunderbirds up 16-14 in the third and a pair of Jayde Robertsen aces extended their lead to 23-16 en route to a third set win. The hosts continued to build momentum throughout the fourth and led 21-14 after a Robertsen kill late in the set – getting the crowd on their feet for the final few points of the upset win.
Robertsen had a standout 14 kills, seven blocks, and four aces for the Thunderbirds, Erika Vermette put up seven kills with three aces and 11 digs, and Petit recorded eight kills and six blocks in the victory. Rookie Raya Surinx racked up 14 kills with two aces and 13 digs for the Bisons, as Ella Gray added 10 kills and seven digs in the loss.
Manitoba will take on the No. 5 Dalhousie Tigers in the bronze medal match at 2:00 p.m. (Pacific) Sunday inside War Memorial Gym.
Mikasa Players of the Game
- Manitoba: Katreena Bentley
- UBC: Kacey Jost