Weber's strong night paces Griffins to straight-sets romp over Thunderbirds

Carly Weber smashes a ball against a single block presented by UBC's Heather Pippus on Friday night (Eduardo Perez photo).
Carly Weber smashes a ball against a single block presented by UBC's Heather Pippus on Friday night (Eduardo Perez photo).

Jefferson Hagen, MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Crediting strong preparation for a dramatic turnaround in hitting efficiency from a weekend ago when she struggled against Saskatchewan, MacEwan outside hitter Carly Weber turned in a huge performance as the Griffins crushed the UBC Thunderbirds in straight sets Friday night.

Weber was a difference-maker all over the court – producing a game-high 11 kills on .320 efficiency from the right side, while adding five blocks and two aces as the Griffins wrapped up the match rather quickly (25-15, 25-19, 25-13).

As a result, they improved to 10-5 in the Canada West women's volleyball standings, while dropping the Thunderbirds below .500 to 6-7.

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"We had a good video session and I knew what I was blocking at all times," said Weber, a fourth-year outside hitter from Toronto, who accounted for every set point in the match. "(Offensively), I was confident and that was all to do with Kylie (Schubert) getting me single blocks. She ran the offence really well."

Setter Schubert, the reigning U SPORTS female athlete of the week, had 26 assists, adding two of MacEwan's 10 aces. Leading in that department was Lauren Holmes with four as the Griffins put the Thunderbirds out of system for much of the match.

"MacEwan took it to us," said UBC head coach Doug Riemer. "They didn't wobble for long, they finished sets really well, they took advantage of opportunities and they showed they're a veteran squad.

"There's nothing in there we didn't think they'd do, but they executed at a significantly higher level than we did in every facet of the game. We were out blocked, out hit, out served."

While the Griffins struck at .308 team efficiency, head coach Ken Briggs was proudest of the team blocks statistic (14.0 to 4.0) in favour of the Griffins.

"Our defence and preparation was exactly (what we needed)," he said. "Now, what are they going to do to change and what can we do to change?

"It was still the serve, serve-receive game. We put them in trouble and that really eliminates their middles."

Most notably was Holmes' serving run in the third set, as she held court from the line for a 5-0 run through the technical timeout, which took a close 13-11 game to 18-11. Weber then finished off the match with back-to-back aces as MacEwan closed on a 13-2 run.

Weber also finished off Set 1 when she smashed a second opportunity kill off the block. And she also put home the deciding point in Set 2 when Haley Gilfillan's tough serve caused an overbump and she tapped it to the floor.

"I'm really happy for Carly. She had a tough time (last weekend)," said Briggs of Weber's -.250 and .083 attacking numbers in a pair of games at Saskatchewan a week ago. "She put a little extra time in this week and it's nice when kids get rewarded for that."

UBC got six kills from Cara Kovacs, while Jayde Robertsen added two kills, three aces and three blocks. Setter Olivia Furlan had six assists in part-time work in her first game back from an ankle injury that's cost her the whole season to this point.

The visitors were ultimately undone by .020 hitting efficiency in the match.

"I knew there would be some rough spots," said Riemer. "We had a bye last weekend, so we haven't played with uniforms since November, but we should be disappointed with our ability to compete and match MacEwan's level of play."

They'll hope to regroup in the rematch on Saturday (5 p.m., David Atkinson Gym, Canada West TV presented by Co-op).

"We've got to be significantly better," said Riemer. "We've got to be engaged. In volleyball, like in most sports, it doesn't take much for it to go a little bit sideways.

"It's across the board, but you've got to maintain some belief that you can execute at a better level and mentally we've got to find that zone where we come to play."