Out-of-sync Griffins steamrolled by Thunderbirds in straight sets

Jordan Peters hits into a UBC double block on Friday night (Eduardo Perez photo).
Jordan Peters hits into a UBC double block on Friday night (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – At times, UBC Thunderbirds players were in the air ready to nuke the volleyball before MacEwan Griffins players even got off the ground for a block attempt.

So thoroughly out of sync and system were the homestanding Griffins that they were completely bowled over in a rout as the T-Birds cruised to an easy 3-0 win (25-16, 25-16, 25-17) for their ninth-straight Canada West men's volleyball victory.

"Basically, nothing was right tonight," said MacEwan head coach Brad Poplawski. "Physically, they're very impressive with strong serving, but we have to play our system and we didn't at all. We just freelanced.

"That's what happens to lose as bad as we did. Guys were just making it up. We looked like a rec volleyball team."

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The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, looked like a confident national contender on a winning streak as they scored at will all over the court, finishing with a ridiculous .529 team hitting percentage. With the result, UBC is now 10-3, while MacEwan falls to 2-11.

"It's just a testament to the work these guys have been putting in in practice," said UBC head coach Mike Hawkins. "We still have a really young group, so we're just really focused on getting better each day. It's nice that they're getting rewarded with it on the weekends."

Matt Neaves led the Thunderbirds with eight kills on a .500 percentage, while adding four blocks, while three others had six kills each, including setter Ben Hooker, who added 27 assists, two aces and three digs while keeping the Griffins on their heels all evening.

UBC's depth was further augmented as 10 players recorded at least one kill in a quick three-set match.

"We have a lot of talent 1 through 16 and it's nice when we do different sub packages where it's a double sub or a serving sub that we're confident in those guys coming in," said Hawkins. "I thought they did a great job tonight."

UBC closed out the first set on their third set point opportunity when Michael Dowhaniuk found the floor from the left side.

The second set went their way on the T-Birds' third set point opportunity when Nick Mickelberry blitzed a back-row offering down the line from the right side.

And the match ended on Zec Johnson's dump shot as the stunned Griffins shuffled off to handshake line with one of their toughest performances in a long time.

The numbers give rise to MacEwan's fate – just one block shared by Jordan Peters and Keenan Koss, no service aces all night versus 12 serving errors and a team hitting percentage of .127.

"We have guys all over the place – undisciplined blocking, undisciplined defence," said Poplawski. "You see what happens. That's a team that's top-five nationally versus a team that's 2-11. That's the disappointing thing is there's been nights this year where we've played a very good team and it hasn't been that obvious. No chance tonight. We were out-chanced in every area."

The teams will meet in the rematch on Saturday (6:30 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).