Lacombe’s Laura MacTaggart off to nationals for UBC

Laura MacTaggart had one of the games of her life in a position she doesn’t even regularly play.

The Lacombe native, in her third season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds women’s volleyball team tied with a game-high 15 kills in the Canada West final against University of Alberta.

Usually a right side, the six-foot-four former Notre Dame Cougar was tasked with playing left side in the final.

The position switch led to a few more opportunities on the offensive attack for MacTaggart and was also a chance to bounce back from lingering concussion issues.

“Our first-year setter Olivia Furlan did a great job at getting it out to me and we kept pounding away,” said MacTaggart, who has played sparingly this season while dealing with post-concussion syndrome after suffering a head injury over a year ago.

“Didn’t have anything to lose, we knew we were going to nationals anyway. I had the opportunity to play left side and I was just going for it.”

She was also quick to mention her passing stats, which for a taller player usually gets lost on the offensive side. MacTaggart had seven digs in the match.

“I had a great game passing actually, which made me very happy because everybody always expects the six-foot-four girl to hit and block, they don’t expect her to pass and play defense,” she said with a laugh.

The Pandas won the match three sets to one, but both schools earned a berth in the U Sport Canadian National Championships March 17-19 in Toronto, something that MacTaggart said her team knew before the Canada West final and allowed them to rest a few of their injured players.

“For our team, that game wasn’t our priority. Those girls who usually start got a bit of a break. We didn’t want them to get more injured because we’ve got a big weekend coming up,” she said.

“There’s this funny feeling on the team, we know we’ve got what it takes to make it to the top. That feeling doesn’t come around often.”

MacTaggart and the Thunderbirds are ranked third out of 10 teams at nationals and with a healthy lineup, she likes their chances.

“We’ve got a really positive energy and work-hard mentality this year, we’ve got an excellent group of seniors that are very talented, but very humble and very team orientated,” she said.

“That really sets up for a good energy going into playoffs and now moving into nationals. We’ve really got this attitude that we’re going in to win.”

UBC will play its first game on Friday in Toronto against the University of Western Ontario Mustangs.

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