Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference match)
Saturday, February 11th, 2017
Saville Community Sports Centre, Edmonton, Alberta
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan women's volleyball team fell in straight sets again on Saturday night to the University of Alberta Pandas in Edmonton. Set scores were 25-17, 25-19, and 25-23.
The Pandas were able to continue their perfect season by out-hitting the Heat on Saturday night. They finished with better hitting percentages in each set, although kills were nearly even. For the Heat it was attacking errors that were the biggest issue.
Kills in the match were 37-32 in favour of Alberta, who also finished with the .303 - .055 advantage in hitting percentage. On the defensive side the Pandas were more consistent as well, finishing with 42 digs and five total blocks to the Heat's 36 and three. The one area in which UBC Okanagan had a significant advantage was serving, as the visitors finished with nine service aces to Alberta's three.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick was the most dominant force for the Heat on Saturday night, finishing with a match-high five service aces and tied for a team-high in kills with nine. Aidan Lea also finished with nine kills, while Megan Festival finished just behind them with eight.
For Alberta it was Meg Casault leading the way, finishing with a match-high 12 kills. Vanessa Jarman was second-best on the attack with nine kills. Pandas setter Mariah Walsh finished with a match-high 32 assists. Casault set the new conference kills record in the match. Casault recorded the record-breaking kill early in the first set, her 1,255th career kill, placing her atop the Canada West all-time list. The fifth-year Panda eclipsed the mark set by Pandas alumni Tawana McLeod in 2006.
The first set saw the Pandas at their most dominant. They finished with 14 kills and a .429 hitting percentage, while the Heat had nine on .032. The Heat started the opening frame with a lead, after a five-point run put them up 5-1. The Pandas took over shortly after, scoring six straight points to take an 8-6 lead. From then on it proved nearly impossible for UBCO to score consecutive points, and another six-point run put the Pandas up 19-13 before a Vanessa Jarman kill closed out the set 25-17 for the home team.
Kills in the second set were even at 10 apiece, but the Heat made nine attacking errors and finished with a .026 attacking percentage while the Pandas made three and hit .259. Again in the second the Heat had a lead early on, up 9-7 after the teams traded points through the first third of the frame. A four-point run gave Alberta the lead as they pulled ahead 11-9, and after trading points through most of the middle of the set it was a three-point run made up of a Jarman kill and a pair of Heat errors that closed out the set win for Alberta.
The third set was the closest of the night, as it nearly went into extra points. Each side had 13 kills in the set, though once again the Heat's nine errors to the Pandas' five was the difference. UBCO hit .103 while Alberta's attack percentage was .235. As in the first two sets the Heat had a lead to start, and held on to go up 7-5. Another six-point run by the Pandas gave them back the lead at 11-7, and the home side wouldn't give it up for the rest of the set. The Heat put together three-point run by the Heat late to pull within a point at 23-22, but it wasn't quite enough. Fitzpatrick put away a kill to stay match point at 24-23, but Kacey Otto buried a kill to finish the match with a 25-23 Pandas set win.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (12-8) have now officially secured a playoff spot, and will play their next matches in a home-and-home series against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (12-8) on Thursday, February 16 and Saturday, February 18. The University of Alberta Pandas (20-0) will play their next matches against the UBC Thunderbirds (16-4) on Friday, February 17 and Saturday, February 18.
~ Grayson Leahy // UBC Okanagan