KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat men's volleyball team earned their first victory of the season on Friday night, defeating the visiting Mount Royal University Cougars in a marathon five-set match.
After dropping the first set, the Heat pushed the second into extra points after a late-set comeback. After dropping the third, they played a dominant fourth set, nearly winning it by double digits, to force a deciding fifth.
The big hitters for the Heat were the difference-makers on Friday night, especially in the fifth. Devon Cote was the most noticeable attacker in the match, putting a huge swing on nearly every attack and getting up to block just as consistently. Jon Russo and Lars Bornemann were just as determined to earn their first win of the season on home court against the Cougars, rounding out the top three of the attack. Joshua Harvey was the fourth proverbial horseman in the match, contributing the final Heat kill of the match and essentially putting away the win.
First Set: (15-25)
The Cougars came out swinging and strong at the net in the first set, burying nine kills and hitting .368 while holding the Heat to four on -.043.
The Heat didn't score consecutive points until near the technical time-out, as a Lars Bornemann kill and a Cougars attack error made it 15-9, and it was 16-9 at the break. From then on the two sides traded points until the Cougars got two in a row to go up 22-14, then strung together three in a row on a Riley Friesen kill and a pair of Heat errors to close out the frame.
Second Set: (27-25)
The second set started tight, as the Heat scored first before the teams traded points through the early stages and tied six times, with three lead changes, before either side hit double digits.
Three consecutive Heat errors put the Cougars up 9-7, before Lars Bornemann stopped the skid with a big swing to make it 9-8. A Cougars service error and a big block by Bornemann and Caleb Funk tied it up at 10, and points were traded for ties at 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 before the Cougars took a 16-15 lead into the technical time-out.
A pair of kills from Quinn Bromley and one from Matt Saly were part of a stretch that put the Cougars ahead 21-17 after the break, before the Heat pulled within two after a MRU error and a huge service ace from Bornemann. A Heat error and a Riley Friesen kill put the Cougars up 23-20, and brought on a Heat time-out.
Out of the time-out the Heat scored back-to-back to pull within one at 23-22, and tied it up at 24 after a Cougars mistake and another big swing from Bornemann. Tyler Schmidt put the Cougars up 25-24, but a service error brought the Heat even at 25, after which the home side got a huge kill from Joshua Harvey and a clutch block from Bornemann and Funk to clinch the set win.
Third Set: (18-25)
MRU started the third set with a 4-0 run, before a service error got the Heat on the board. Another huge block from Funk and Bornemann gave the Heat their third point of the set, bringing them within two, but Matt Saly buried his second kill of the set to put the Cougars up 6-3. A big shut-down block by MRU's Tanner Greves and Quinn Bromley started a run, as the Cougars went on to pull ahead 12-4, and took a 16-7 lead into the media time-out.
Out of the break, the Cougars kept rolling, scoring back-to-back kills, before the Heat got one of their own from Devon Cote to make it 18-9. After that the Heat were able to put together a run late, to make it 23-16, but the difference was too much to make up and the Cougars went on to take it 25-18
Fourth Set: (25-16)
Devon Cote got the scoring started in the fourth set, putting a kill away for the Heat. Cote's second kill of the frame put the Heat up 5-3, followed by back-to-back kills and a huge block from Funk and Max Heppell that gave the Heat an 8-4 lead and forced a Cougars time-out.
MRU put together a four-point run to nearly pull even, down just one at 11-10, before Joshua Harvey and Jon Russo put together back-to-back shut-down blocks to keep the Heat ahead. After the Cougars pulled within one again at 13-12 and at 14-13, a kill from Devon Cote and a service ace from Joshua Harvey gave the Heat a 16-13 lead at the media time-out.
Max Heppell kept it going for the Heat out of the break, burying a kill to extend the lead to four. Two more big blocks, this time from Funk and Morgan Nichols, and a solo stop by Harvey, and kills from Cote and Heppell forced an MRU time-out with the Heat up 22-15.
Another kill from Heppell, one from Harvey, and an exclamation point of a kill from Cote sealed the set for the Heat and forced a fifth.
Fifth Set: (15-10)
The Heat got on the board first in the deciding frame, capitalizing on an error by MRU. After ties at 1-1 and 2-2, 4-4, 5-5, the Heat buried two kills and a service ace to take the 8-5 lead into the break.
Out of the break the Heat earned an ace and another huge block, from Funk and Nichols, to take a 10-5 lead. A kill from Bromley and a Heat mishit made it 10-7 at a Heat time-out.
MRU scored again out of the time-out, as Matt Saly served an ace. Devon Cote found his swing again, putting away another kill, before an error gave serve back to the Cougars at 11-9. Back-to-back same-point blocks and a huge swing from Cote made it 13-9, a kill from Harvey set up match point, and more stellar defence at the net clinched the 15-10 set victory, and the match win.
Morgan Nichols had 35 assists for the Heat, and added 12 digs and three total blocks.
Tyler Schmidt led the way in kills, with 15, followed by Matt Saly (8), Riley Friesen (7), and Quinn Bromley (7). Friesen also had a team-high 10 digs.
Lachlan Polson finished the night with a match-high five total blocks, adding six kills and four digs.
By the Numbers:
The Cougars finished ahead in kills (50-44), hitting percentage (.190 - .144), and assists (49-41). Each team had five service aces and five receiving errors. The Heat blocking was stronger in the match, giving them the edge at the net, as they finished ahead in total blocks (12-11) and block assists (20-12).
The UBC Okanagan Heat (1-4) and the Mount Royal University Cougars (0-3) will meet again tomorrow night, with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information