KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat took on the UBC Thunderbirds on Saturday evening in the second of two matches between the teams on this Canada West opening weekend. Taking it 3-1, the Heat were able to reverse the result of Friday night and earn a weekend split against the defending national champions.
Despite dropping a close first set, the Heat were rolling for most of the match. Calm under pressure in the second to finish out a set that went well into extra points, and following that up with an assertive double-digit win in the third, the Heat returned to the national-contender form for which the program has become known over recent years.
The Thunderbirds jumped out early to start the match, taking a 5-0 lead into a Heat timeout in the opening frame. They maintained the lead into the technical time-out, but the Heat rallied with seven straight points to pull ahead 18-16. Seven kills by the Thunderbirds from then on gave them back the lead late, though, and they closed out a tight first set 25-23.
Once again UBC started the set with a 5-0 run. They held that lead until the Heat tied it up at 14-14, and then put together a five-point run of their own to pull ahead 19-15. The visitors then tied it up late, and pushed it well into extra points, before the Heat took it 29-27 to the match up at a set apiece.
The Heat were at their most dominant yet in the third, putting it away 25-14. A run of six straight to go ahead 20-10 had it in hand for the Heat, before Ann Richards and Siobhan Fitzpatrick buried a pair of kills apiece to close out the set.
The Heat were in command most of the fourth set, with the exception being a run mid-frame by the Thunderbirds that had them leading from 12-11 to 18-17. Behind three kills from then on by Ann Richards, and a pair from Aidan Lea, the Heat were able to close it out 25-22 and cement their first victory of the season.
Once again it was Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Ann Richards leading up the attack for the Heat. Fitzpatrick finished with 15 kills, hitting .250, with 11 digs and service ace while Richards put away 11 kills, hit .308, also had 11 digs and served up a pair of aces. Aidan Lea also finished in double digits for kills, burying 10 on a .368 hitting percentage. Sara McCreary finished with 42 assists behind that Heat offence, and Michelle Jakszuk had a team-high 14 digs in addition to seven kills.
Kiera Van Ryk was at the head of the Thunderbirds offence for the second night in a row in Kelowna, burying 15 kills. Gabrielle Attieh added 10 kills for the 'Birds, with both being set up by Alessandra Gentile's team-high 23 assists. Samantha Patko and Olivia Furlan were steady on the defensive side of the ball, finishing with 16 and 15 digs respectively.
By the Numbers:
Statistically it was UBC Okanagan's night, as they finished ahead in all offensive categories. Kills were 51-45, on hitting percentages of .274 - .095, and the Heat setup earned 49 assists to UBC's 42. It was that offensive efficiency that made the difference Saturday evening, as it was the strong attack that closed out the tighter sets of the match.
The next matches for the UBC Okanagan Heat (1-1) will be in Langley, against the Trinity Western Spartans (1-1), on Friday, October 27 and on Saturday, October 28.
Next weekend is a bye week for the UBC Thunderbirds (1-1), so their next matches will be on their home opener weekend, November 3 & 4, when they host the Calgary Dinos (2-0).
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information