For the first time since 1983, the UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball team has won a national championship – and a pair of Earl Marriott Mariners helped them do it.
On Sunday in Hamilton, Ont., UBC defeated Langley’s Trinity Western University Spartans – the two-time defending U Sports champs – by a 3-0 score (25-22, 25-18, 27-25) to quash their Canada West rivals’ attempt at a three-peat.
Byron Keturakis – the team’s six-foot-eight, fourth-year setter and a former star at EMS – was named the national tournament’s most valuable player. Another former Mariner, starting libero Tyson Smith, is also a key member of the newly minted champions, as are a slew of other players with Surrey roots – Ben Chow (Fleetwood Park), Irvan Brar (Fraser Heights), Jordan Deshane (Fraser Heights) and Nathan Teasdale (Pacific Academy).
“It’s awesome to win one for the program,” said Keturakis in a news release that was released shortly after the team’s victory Sunday afternoon. “We have so much support from our teammates, our coaching staff, our trainers, parents and alumni, and it’s really cool to be part of that bigger family.”
Keturakis’ performance also earned him Canada West ‘Three Stars of the Week” honours. Along with University of Manitoba hockey player Lauryn Keen, the South Surrey native was named a first star. Surrey’s Kiera Van Ryk (Surrey Christian) was named a second star. The UBC student-athlete was also recently named Canada West’s rookie of the year.
— UBC Media Relations (@ubcnews) March 20, 2018
The triumph gave the T-Birds its fourth men’s volleyball championship in school history; in addition to 1983, the school won in 1967 and 1976.
Winning a title in the fashion that they did – knocking off the high-powered defending champs – only added to the experience, he said.
“Trinity Western is an awesome team, and part of what makes this so special is that they’re continually in this national final. Their being so good is what makes this so special.”
Against the Spartans, Keturakis – who won a provincial high-school title with Marriott in 2013 – led the UBC offence, finishing with 31 assists. Brar – who was named to the tournament all-star team and also won the R.W. Pugh Fair Play Award – posted 11 points and Deshane finished with 10.5.
In the third set against Trinity Western, with the T-Birds trailing 23-22, Brar made a trio of acrobatic diving digs keep UBC in striking distance. Soon after, they tied the set and went on to win.
“It’s sweet. We were in a dry spell for quite a long time, and it’s nice to see the progress from last year and into this year’s team,” Brar said. ”Coach K (Kerry MacDonald) is killing it for us and we’re so happy to get a national championship for him and for us.”