Kelowna, B.C. - Playing their first match since Nov. 11th, the Heat men's volleyball team captured a decisive four-set victory on Friday night against the visiting Regina Cougars in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
The win brings the Heat just one game under .500 (4-5) with three games remaining before the midway point of the season. The Heat are on pace to beat last season's school record for Canada West wins in a season of nine. The Cougars fell to 1-10 on the year following the loss.
The pivotal second set had the Cougars score four straight to regain the lead and had an opportunity with set point at 24-22 after back to back service aces from Matthew Aubrey. A Jon Russo kill would start the comeback for the Heat and after back to back service errors from the Cougars, Russo would complete the comeback with another kill and a 26-24 Heat set win.
UBC Okanagan fell in the third set but a cheeky play by third year libero Eli Risso in the fourth set allowed UBCO to walk away with their third straight conference victory finished not surprisingly on a Lars Bornemann kill. The fifth year outside hitter led the match with 18 kills. Risso had a match high 16 digs to go along with his lone kill.
Regina's Aubryey finished with five aces and eight kills to lead his team in scoring with 16 points.
It was the Heat gaining the upper hand early on in the match as they would score the first two points of the first set and not let the Cougars regain the lead at any point in the first set. A kill from third year hitter Devon Cote would give the Heat a four point lead at 14-10 and they continue their strong play on route to a 25-21 first set win. The Heat offense was on point in the opening set as they had 14 kills and a .333 hitting percentage compared to just three kills in the opening set for the Cougars. Fifth year outside hitter Lars Bornemann led all players with five kills in the opening frame.
The Heat would use a 6-0 run early in the second set to grab a commanding lead on the Cougars. After four straight points from the visitors, the Heat would bounce back with a five point run to stretch the lead once again. A massive kill from Devon Cote would give the Heat a 16-14 advantage at the technical timeout. The Cougars would fight back after the timeout to take the lead 20-19 but they could not turn this into a set win. Succesfull attacks from Lars Bornemann and Jon Russo would give the Heat a 22-20 lead before the Cougars four point run to set point that UBCO foufht off to take second 26-24.
The two teams would go back and forth to start the third set with neither scoring scoring more then two points in a row until the Cougars used a 4-1 run to take a 16-13 lead heading into the technical timeout. The Heat would not get any closer as the Cougs' had their best hitting performance of the game hitting .346 in the third frame. Final score in the third was 25-20 Regina
The Heat would lead early on in the fourth set and 10-6 but the visitors would fight their way back and eventually lead 17-16 following a error from the Heat. A kill from Josh Harvey would regain the Heat lead at 20-19 and on set points, Lars Bornemann would put the final kill away for a Heat victory.
- The Heat offense was the difference in the game as they had more kills (51-42) and a better hitting percentage (.241 - .127) then the visiting Cougars.
- Fifth year outside hitter Lars Bornemann added a game-high 18 kills to give him 1063 kills in his career. With his nine digs in the match he now has 499 and is just one dig away from the 1000 / 500 club.
- Rookie setter Morgan Nichols had his best performance in a Heat uniform as he had a career-high 45 assists along with seven digs.
The Heat (4-5) and Cougars (1-10) will face-off again tomorrow night with the first serve at 7 p.m. PST in the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium, watch on Canadawest.tv
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat sports information