KELOWNA, B.C. - Despite moments of brilliance, the Heat men's volleyball squad dropped their season opener in three sets to the Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night in the Okanagan gym.
Third-year Max Heppell tied Alberta's Jordan Canham for a game-high with 17 kills. He was the Heat's offensive centrepiece, as he attempted 38 of 95 UBCO attacks on the night.
The loss drops UBCO to (0-1) as they stay winless in home openers since 2016. Alberta wins their second straight, bringing them to (2-1).
As a team, the Golden Bears would hit .317 in the match, compared to just .126 for the home squad. Alberta also controlled the play at the net all night long as they finished with 10 total blocks while the Heat finish with just four.
The first set was won by the Golden Bears (25-19) as a strong team effort allowed them to take the lead early and not look back.
Heppell caught fire in the second set with six kills. Heppell along with Caleb Funk had timely blocks that proved crucial for keeping UBCO in the set, though the Golden Bears would go on to win the set (26-24). Canham led Alberta with 12 kills through two.
In the third set, Alberta grabbed the lead and held off any pushback from the Heat, taking the frame (25-19).
Heat head coach, Brad Hudson was pleased with his team's performance despite the loss.
"We've got a great group of kids that care a ton, and they've been working really hard...the difference in that game may have been just a little bit of composure at crucial times."
Hudson says the team has to work on playing a more steady game against tough schools like Alberta and that may be the key to beating them down the road.
"I think the job is to be better from play to play, I think when we took care of our side of the net its a straight-up volleyball game. When we didn't, that's when they made a push. It's all part of a learning process for our group and I believe [they'll] figure it out.
The two teams will rematch tomorrow night in the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium at 6 p.m.
All action can be watched live on Canada West tv presented by Co-op.
~ Brandon Smith, Heat Sports Information