KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat earned a weekend split against the visiting Mount Royal Cougars, with a 3-1 victory on home court Saturday night. The second of the weekend's two matches saw a more dominant Heat attack, meaning there was no need for another five-set nail-biter as the Friday night match was.
The Heat were at their most dominant in the final two sets, evidently on a mission to close out a win after dropping the second set to the Cougars. Hitting .308 and burying 12 kills in the final frame, the Heat had their defence on display as well in the clinching set as the Cougars put away eight kills and finished with a hitting percentage of .000.
Once again it was Ann Richards and Siobhan Fitzpatrick leading the way for the Heat attack, and on the other side of the ball the Cougars hitters were all kept out of double-digits in the kills category, especially impressive considering that Alexy Donaghy and Chantel Park had combined for 39 kills the night before.
First Set: (25-17)
Mount Royal jumped out to an early lead in the opening frame, pulling ahead 7-3 thanks to a five-point run bolstered by a pair of kills and an ace. The Heat responded with a run of their own, stringing together 10 straight points, that included six kills and three service aces, to pull ahead 13-7. Scoring five of the next seven points, the Cougars pulled within three, but were down 16-12 after Siobhan Fitzpatrick gave the Heat a 16-12 lead at the break with her second kill of the set.
Out of the break the Heat defenders were a force, keeping the Cougars from scoring consecutive points from then on. Three kills from Ann Richards drove the Heat attack in the closing-out of the set, and Okanagan setter Sara McCreary provided the final point with her seventh kill of the season.
Second Set: (20-25)
The Heat had the lead early on in the first, but five straight points for the Cougars put them ahead 10-6 and forced a time-out call by UBCO. The Heat scored directly out of the time-out, on a kill by Michelle Jakszuk, but another time-out was needed after MRU put together three-straight to pull ahead 15-8. A big block by Carly Davies and Cassidy Kitchen gave the Cougars a 16-8 lead at the technical time-out.
After the break the Heat gained some momentum, scoring six of the next eight points and making it 19-15, forcing a Cougars time-out. UBCO pulled within three twice late, down 20-17 and 23-20, but Alex Donaghy and Carly Davies brought the Cougars to set point and a mishit on a Heat swing closed out the set to tie the match up at 1-1.
Third Set: (25-17)
Mount Royal took control early on in the third set, scoring three straight kills to go up 3-1 and then forcing a Heat time-out after stretching the lead to 9-5. Shortly after that time-out the Heat scored six straight to tie it up at 11-11, before taking the lead on a Sara McCreary ace amidst another run that had them taking a 16-13 lead into the technical time-out.
Three kills and an ace after the break had the Heat up 20-14, forcing a Mount Royal time-out. Back-to-back blocks, from Richards and Drew and then a solo shut-down by Aidan Lea, made it 22-15. Another block, this time by Jakszuk and Lea, made it set point, and Natalie Livingston buried the final point to put the Heat up 2-1.
Fourth Set: (25-14)
The teams traded leads through the early part of the fourth set, with (5) ties and three lead changes before the Heat managed to string four straight points together and force an MRU time-out. The Heat defence at the net shut down the Cougars hitters, with blocking and forcing hitters to miss outside, and UBCO rolled into the media time-out up 16-9.
A pair of Cougars errors led into a five-point run after that for the Heat, centred around a pair of Ann Richards' kills and a perfectly-placed service ace by Siobhan Fitzpatrick. Skye Thompson and Aidan Lea had a pair of kills that combined with a big block by Lea and Richards to set up match point for the Heat, and Thompson buried another one to lock up the win.
Sara McCreary finished with another 40-assist match, also earning a pair of kills, three service aces, and four digs to her stat line.
Alex Donaghy and Ciera Talbot tied for the team-high in kills, with nine apiece, followed closely behind by Carly Davies, who had eight. Davies also had a team-high five total blocks.
Setter Allisa Dandenault finished with 35 assists, a service ace, and seven digs. Cassidy Kitchen finished the match with the team-high in digs, pulling up 12.
By the Numbers:
The Heat were able to keep the Cougars hitters in check on Saturday night, holding them to 40 kills on a .099 hitting percentage. In the first and fourth sets, the MRU hitters were held to a .000 hitting percentage collectively.
The Heat were the more dominant hitting team, finishing with 50 kills and hitting .229 for the match. They also finished ahead in service aces (9-5), assists (45-38), blocks (11-6), and digs (60-54).
The UBC Okanagan Heat (4-2) will play next weekend against the MacEwan Griffins (0-4), heading to Edmonton for a pair of matches on Friday, November 10 and Saturday, November 11.
The Mount Royal Cougars (3-1) will have their next matches at home, as they host the Regina Cougars (2-3) on November 10 & 11.
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information