(HAMILTON, ON) - (U SPORTS) - The UBC Thunderbirds scored a three set victory over the UNB Varsity Reds in the opening game at the TELUS 2018 U SPORTS Men's Volleyball Championship on Friday afternoon.
UBC put together set scores of 25-11, 25-14 and 25-19 in their opening match to advance to the semi-finals, on Saturday at host McMaster University.
"We were prepared for a much longer and much tougher battle than that, but that's ultimately what we were hoping for, that we could get a three-set and save some energy here on day one," said UBC head coach Kerry MacDonald.
"I thought we were able to execute our game plan really early, and that's the way we're capable of playing. We were able to bring it from the first point on and able to maintain it for the most part."
The Thunderbirds were led by Keith West, who earned player of the game honours for UBC. West tallied seven kills, one assist and a team high five digs for a total of 13 points to lead the way. Teammate Irvan Brar had 11 points with Jordan Deshane contributing 10.5 points. Both Brar and Deshane led UBC with eight kills.
For UNB, Ryan Colpitts was the top player posting eight kills to earn player of the game honours in the loss.
In a dominant opening set, the Thunderbirds hit .611 as a team, committing just a single error versus 12 kills. By comparison, the AUS champion Varsity Reds sputtered on offence, committing seven errors and collecting just five kills to hit -.105.
West was three of five hitting in the set without an error (.600) to lead the way for the Canada West bronze medalists.
One-way traffic continued in the second, where UBC took a 16-11 lead at the technical timeout after a kill from West.
Stretching their advantage after the break, the Thunderbirds reeled off seven of the set's last nine points to take it by an 11-point margin and secure a commanding two-set lead.
The Varsity Reds refused to go quietly, however, and opened a 5-1 lead to begin the third set and send the Thunderbirds to an early timeout.
But that lead evaporated when Matt Guidi took to the service line and oversaw an eight-point run for UBC, vaulting them ahead 13-10.
From there, UBC would keep a comfortable margin and push to a 25-19 set victory to secure the opening game sweep.
UNB head coach Dan McMorran rued his team's slow start, dictated often by UBC's pressure from the service line.
"We struggled to start well in that match and I think their serving went a long way toward doing that and making us predictable," said McMorran. "In the second and third sets we were able to get them out of system a little bit more, and run some transition on them."
The Varsity Reds drop into the tournament's consolation bracket. They'll face Queen's, at 2:00pm Atlantic, on Saturday.