Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference match)
Thursday, February 16th, 2017
Warner Rentals Court, Tournament Capital Centre, Kamloops, BC
KAMLOOPS, BC - The UBC Okanagan women's volleyball team continued their playoff push with a four-set win over the Thompson River University WolfPack on Thursday night. With the win the Heat tightened their hold on the fifth playoff spot with a one game advantage over the WolfPack with three games to play in the regular season.
The Heat (13-8) and WolfPack (12-9) will have a rematch on Saturday night back in Kelowna at 5 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan Gym.
One piece of business that will not need to be resolved on Saturday is the issue of the female Presidents' Cup which also went to UBC Okanagan with the Thursday night win.
The win returned the trophy to UBCO after a two year absence. The Cup is a year-long competition from the three Canada West sports (soccer, basketball, volleyball). Full history. Scoring for this year.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick led the way for the Heat with a match-high 13 kills and seven digs and Kaitlynn Given finished with 11 kills and nine digs. The Heat defense was led by Megan Festival who finished with 15 digs along with six service aces, libero Sophia Furlan finished with 11 digs in the four sets.
The WolfPack were led by Rachel Windhorst who finished with a team-high 12 kills along with 11 digs. Kendra Finch had an outstanding game for the home team with a game-high 23 digs.
The Heat got off to a solid start in the first set and forced a WolfPack timeout with the lead at 14-10 Heat. After back-to-back Megan Festival aces the team from Kelowna held a 19-14 lead and forced another TRU timeout. The visitors closed out the first set 25-19 thanks to 11 kills.
The two teams went into the technical timeout of the second set with a 16-15 lead for the visitors from Kelowna. After the Heat went on a 5-1 run the WolfPack bounced back and went on their own 4-0 run to tie the game up at 21 all and force a timeout from UBC Okanagan head coach Steve Manuel.
A Kaitlynn Given kill gave the Heat set point at 24-23 but a service error tied the game back up at 24. The set would go to extra points and reigning Canada West and CIS player of the year Iuliia Pakhomenko and Morgan Kolasa would team up for the block to give the Pack a one point lead at 26-25. Mikayla Funk would close out the second set 27-25 for the home team with a service ace.
After losing the first point of the third set the Heat would take command of the set. The team led 16-11 at the technical timeout and would close out the third set 25-18 thanks to a Siobhan Fitzpatrick kill.
The WolfPack got off to a quick start in the fourth set and led 6-1 early but the Heat clawed their way back to tie the game up at 14 apiece and force a 'Pack timeout. A Skye Thompson ace gave the Heat a 22-19 lead and the team finished the match thanks to a Natalie Livingston kill. The fourth and final set finished 25-19.
The Heat led in kills (51-39), hitting percentage (.214-.154), service aces (13-4) and had nine fewer reception errors then the home team.
Heat Coach Steve Manual:
"The difference in the match was our ability to continue to battle. We missed something ridiculous like 20 serves. We kept the WolfPack from getting momentum for any great amount of time. That aggressiveness from the service line. Those guys were blocking us like crazy. We missed a bunch of serves but kept on going. That made the difference in the end."
On winning Presidents Cup (Female):
"Obviously it's a matter of pride. I believe our President's know each other fairly well (they are actually married). It is a nice thing for them to have bragging rights around the household. For us, it is a matter of pride when we play. The fact the competition involves all the teams: it makes it a little more interesting. It's a matter of pride for us and playing 'playoff' ball. And they (TRU) are a playoff bound team as well."
On Iuliia Pakhomenko and her significance to University Women's Volleyball:
"One of a kind. We have not competed against anyone like her. She is very unique. Her amazing drive. Her physical talent. Her strength. Her competitiveness. She just raises the game and makes everyone else around her and across the net a lot better. Week in and week out, every time we play her. I can honestly say I am sad to see her graduating. I am not sorry we don't have to play against her. But I am sorry that she is graduating and won't be around. I have thoroughly enjoyed competing against her and the friendly stuff we have had between our two programs in preseason, during the season and at Christmas. From that standpoint, we will certainly miss her for sure."
Oliver Rizun // UBC Okanagan with notes from Larry Read // TRU Sports