EDMONTON — The University of Alberta Golden Bears were their own worst enemy against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds, little mistakes looming large as Alberta dropped a straight-sets loss (25-14, 27-25, 25-22) to UBC in a battle against the No.5 and No.7 ranked teams in the nation, Friday night at the Saville Community Sports Centre.
Jordan Canham and Jackson Kennedy led Alberta with 10 kills each in the loss, while setter Max Elgert recorded 31 assists.
“We struggled controlling our own side,” said Golden Bears head coach Brock Davidiuk. “UBC is a strong team in all areas and we were behind the eight ball all night long. We couldn’t gain any rhythm and we didn’t really have much of a presence on the floor and it’s hard to beat a good team when you’re missing that.”
It was a rough opening set for Alberta as they fell behind big early and simply couldn’t recover.
UBC took a 3-2 lead and didn’t look back, going on some big runs offensively and Alberta struggled to find any kind of answer.
Alberta looked more like themselves in the second and third sets, but weren’t able to gain a lead until back-to-back blocks from Kennedy propelled them to an 19-18 lead, but UBC didn’t go away.
A kill from Neaves tied the game at 25-25 and a Jordan Deshane ace gave them the second-set win.
“We didn’t do a good job problem-solving our mistakes. We’re going to make some errors, but you have to find ways to minimize them, and we didn’t have a grasp of that on our side,” said Davidiuk.
The third set was very similar to the second as both teams battled back and forth, but it was a real grind for Alberta.
They led early in the set, but UBC took a 12-9 lead after the Bears’ “struggling pass” game forced Davidiuk to call a timeout.
Alberta battled back to take an 18-17 lead on one of Billy Johnstone’s six kills, but UBC eventually took a 22-21 lead and Alberta couldn’t come back.
“The one thing that stood out from UBC was their service game and it took us far too long to find our rhythm defensively,” said Davidiuk. “We had issues on our side before the ball even got over the net and we need to find a way to clean that up.
Alberta and UBC will wrap up their weekend series on Saturday at approximately 6:30 p.m MT.