Edmonton, AB - It was a tough opening night for the Heat men's volleyball team as they fell in three sets to the MacEwan Griffins on the opening night of the Canada West season. The Heat would have opportunities in all three sets, but were unable to close the door on the home team.
Second year hitter Max Heppell would produce the best performance of his young Heat career in the match, as the Langely product put away a career-high 18 kills on the night along with 11 digs. Heppell's career-high for all of last season was nine on multiple occasions, but following an impressive showing in preseason, the management student continued his strong play in the conference opener.
It would be all Griffins from the get go in the match, as they built an early 16-9 lead heading into the first set technical timeout. Four straight points would cut the deficit to just two at 21-19, but they were unable to get any closer in the opening frame, falling by a score of 25-21. Transfer students Matt Aubrey and Brennan Goski would combine for eight kills in the first set to lead the way individually for the Heat.
Six of the first eight points in the second set would go the visitors way, but they were unable to hold onto this advantage very long as MacEwan would tie things up at 10 apiece. The Heat would regain their advantage however, with outsider hitter Max Heppell being the vocal point of the UBCO attack. Heppell would tie the set up at 22 apiece on a kill from Morgan Nichols, but a Jordan Peters kill was followed up with two Heat attack errors and the visitors fell 25-22.
The two teams would go back-and-forth throughout the third frame as they entered the technical timeout with a narrow one point Griffins lead. Three straight points for the Heat would give them a 21-20 lead on the road, but this was quickly answered with back-to-back kills from the Griffins. The third frame would go into extra points, and following a kill from Kai Hesthammer, the home team would win the match on a big combo block from Max Vriend and Keenan Koss.
Rookies and Transfers making an impact:
- The Heat would feature six new players in their starting lineup in the match, including transfers Matt Aubrey, Brennan Goski, Johnson Yi and Denham O'Reilly. The two first year rookies were middle blocker Téo Ardanaz and libero Ryder Kehler.
- Aubrey would finish in double-digits with 10 kills in the contest, while his former Regina Cougars teammate Goski would finish with 5 put-aways.
- O'Reilly would do the majority of the setting in the match, picking up 23 assists in the three set match.
Inside the numbers:
- The stat sheet would be even in most important categories, with the Heat owning the advantage in total kills (44-35) and digs (39-31).
- Errors would be the different in the match as the Heat had nine more attack errors (24-15) along with four more errors from the service line (10-6).
The Heat and Griffins will matchup once again tomorrow night in Edmonton with first serve going at 6:30 p.m. MDT.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information