EDMONTON – The UBC Okanagan Heat took the first of two matches against the Grant MacEwan University Griffins on Friday night, earning a 3-1 road victory. After a pair of closely-contested sets in the first and second, the Heat women bounced back from dropping the second to roll through the third and fourth to the win.
Aidan Lea and Erin Drew were key to the Heat's success on the night, leading the way for the UBCO hitters and giving them the edge at the net, set up impressively once again by setter Sara McCreary. Heat head coach Steve Manuel spoke about those three after the match.
"We've got lots of experience in the middle, and we've good ball control for the most part and a very adventurous setter," said Manuel. "She's not afraid to feed the middle and when those two get going they're hard to stop, for sure."
The win puts the Heat at the top of the Canada West standings, as they are tied with Brandon and Calgary with records of five wins and two losses.
First Set: (25-21)
The Heat came out strong on the road Friday night, taking the first five points of the match and forcing the Griffins to call an early time-out on home court. MacEwan was able to rally back a couple of times in the set, though, and kept the opening relatively close throughout after that early run.
At the technical time-out the Heat were up a pair, at 16-14.
Second Set: (23-25)
The score was flipped at the media break of the second set, with the Griffins up 16-14 this time. The Heat were able to capitalize on a number of plays at the net, both on offence and defence, to tie it up at 23, after being down 20-17.
At set point, the Griffins got a good serve and strong blocks set up by their front line, and were able to force the Heat to take an adjusted swing that put the ball out long and tied the match up at a set apiece.
Third Set: (25-11)
The third frame had the Heat playing some of their best ball yet, as they put down 15 kills to the Griffins' eight and had their foot on the gas all the way through. A pair of runs early on, broken up by a lone attack error by the visitors, saw the Heat score eight of the first nine points in the frame and pull ahead 8-1. Another run, of seven points, had the Heat up 16-5 at the media time-out.
Out of the break the Griffins were better able to keep the Heat from scoring as consistently, as the scoring basically went back and forth from then on. It was a pair of kills, back-to-back from Aidan Lea and Sydney McKinlay, that gave the Heat the set win and put them up 2-1.
Fourth Set: (25-16)
The Heat were well ahead again in the early stages of the fourth, after runs of five and seven consecutive points had them up 12-2. The Heat were ahead 15-3, when the Griffins put together an impressive run of their own, scoring seven straight including back-to-back-to-back kills from Cassidy Kinsella, meaning the Heat were up just six at the technical time-out after scoring their next point.
The Heat attack was able to maintain from then on, stringing kills together and closing out the match win with a 25-16 victory.
Ann Richards was the most successful hitter on Friday night, finishing with a match-high 17 kills on .405 hitting. Behind her and rounding out the top three Heat hitters were Aidan Lea and Erin Drew, with 16 and 10 respectively, on outstanding kill percentages of .500 and .714.
The Heat attack was based on the impressive setting of Sara McCreary, who finished with 45 assists and a pair of service aces.
Cassidy Kinsella was the Griffins' leading hitter in the match, with a team-high 13 kills on .278 hitting. Haley Gilfillan added eight kills of her own on .500 hitting.
Claire McLoughlin was the one setting MacEwan up on Friday night, with a team-high 25 assists and adding a service ace and three digs.
By the Numbers:
The key to the Heat's success on the night was their proficiency hitting at the net. Kills were 58-35 and hitting percentages finished up at .307 - .135, both favouring the visitors.
Setting numbers were 53 assists to 34, service aces were 10-5, digs were 64-49, and total blocks were 9-5, all with UBC Okanagan ahead.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (5-2) and Grant MacEwan Griffins (0-5) will see each other in competition again tomorrow night, with first serve scheduled to go at 5PM local time.
~ Grayson B. Leahy – Heat Sports Information / Notes from: Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics