Kelowna, BC - Eli Risso turned back the clock on Saturday night as he switched from Libero to setter and it almost played off for the Heat but they fell in three sets to the visiting Calgary Dinos.
After dropping the opening two sets, the Heat had a huge opportunity to keep the match alive as they held a 20-14 advantage in the third but were unable to close the deal.
Calgary improves to 5-7 with the win as they look to make a push towards the postseason while the Heat drop to 0-14 on their conference season.
Risso would finish with 25 assists for UBCO and did a great job distributing the ball to his attackers
"When it comes to volleyball IQ and understanding the game along with decision making, he is pretty exceptional in that regard." commented Brad Hudson following his senior's performance.
For Calgary it was Tim Taylor who led the attack for the second straight night as he finished with a game-high 18 kills to go with five digs. Mitchell Higgin also had 10 kills for the visitors on just 16 attacks.
The Dinos held the advantage on the stat sheet in kills (39-36), attack percentage (.273-.186) and digs (32-27). Both teams struggled from the service line as the Heat committed 17 errors compared to nine for Calgary.
Hudson also noted that arguably the hardest part about this season has been figuring out the best lineup for his team. "We have 12 new faces in the last two years which is a lot of pieces to the puzzle and we got to figure out how to work them together and play them together."
Inn From the Cold clothing drive:
Saturday night's match was the culmination of the 'Bring the Heat' clothing drive in partnership with Inn from the Cold-Kelowna who is a non-profit organization responding to the needs of people experiencing homelessness in the community. Although the final numbers won't be in until Sunday, the representative for IFTC, Kody Woodmass, would go on the mic during the match and announce the drive was hugely successful at the toughest time of the year for the people in need.
Listen to Kody on the webcast with Kirk Penton in the video below.
It wasn't until the midway point of the opening set until either team gained any separation, as the visiting Dinos went on a 5-1 run to build a 19-15 lead nearing the end of the frame. Max Heppell would cut the deficit down at 20-17 but Calgary closed with a flurry, scoring five of the final six points in the first.
The opening six points of the second went the Dinos way as well, capped off by a big swing from senior outside hitter Tim Taylor. UBCO started to find its stride however as the set progressed, ultimately evening up the set at 14 following a Denham O'Reilly and Shawn Zhao block. It was the visitors once again who found the finishing touch in the frame as they snuck back out to a 20-18 lead and would ultimately claim the second 25-21.
In what was the most entertaining set of the match, the third would have huge momentum swings for both teams. First, it was the home team, who built a 20-14 advantage capped off by a Shawn Zhao service ace to take command of the set. Calgary would counter, however, as they scored the next six points to tie things up at 20 looking to close out the match.
After Max Heppell gave UBCO the lead back at 22-21, three straight Dinos points followed as they have two chances at match point. Two errors from Calgary kept the Heat alive but a couple points later the visitors would close the match out with Liam Laidlaw scoring the last two points on a big kill and a block.
The Heat (0-14) will now hit the road as they travel to play two games against the Manitoba Bisons (4-8) next weekend. Calgary (5-7) will be on their home floor to take on the Winnipeg Wesmen (5-7) as both teams battle for playoff positioning.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information