KELOWNA, B.C. – In their first match after the December break, the UBC Okanagan Heat women got their season back underway on Friday night against the visiting University of Alberta Pandas. Against a Pandas team that sat just one match back of them in the Canada West standings, the Heat came out with an impressive start, burying the first set 25-16.
After dropping the second set, the Heat were swinging their best in the third and fourth, putting them away 25-17 and 25-20. Michelle Jakszuk was the leading hitter on the night with a career-high in kills for the Heat (17), and provided the exclamation point by burying the final two points to close out the match on back-to-back kills. She also finished with a new career high in digs (20).
First Set: (25-16)
The Heat were in control early on, going up 3-0 to start the opening frame and never letting up. The Pandas pulled within a pair three consecutive times after 10-8, and tied it up at 13 after a three-point run. The Heat responded with a run of their own, that had them up 16-13 at the technical time-out.
After the break the run continued for the Heat, as they scored a pair more to go ahead by five at 18-13. They kept their foot on the gas in their first appearance of the year on home court, closing out the frame with a three-point run that put them ahead 13-15 and putting it away 25-16 after kills from Aidan Lea and Siobhan Fitzpatrick.
Second Set: (23-25)
The Pandas were in control for most of the second set, and were ahead 7-4 early on. A four-point run by the Heat gave them the lead at 8-7, but the visitors were able to string points together, including a five-point run around a Heat time-out, and were up 16-10 at the technical break.
The Heat came out of the media break stronger, stringing together three straight to pull within three at 19-16. They stayed on the attack and came within a point three times late in the set, at 22-21, 23-22, and 24-23. After a Pandas time-out before their second set-point, the Pandas were able to put it away thanks to a kill from Myja Wildenhoff.
Third Set: (25-17)
Alberta were ahead through the early part of the third, holding on to the lead until the Heat took over at 9-8 amidst a three-point run. The Pandas tied it up at 13-13 after that, but the Heat put together three more straight points on a Michelle Jakszuk kill and consecutive Ann Richards service aces to take a 16-13 lead into the technical time-out.
The Heat kept the run going out of the break, with a kill from Lea that forced a Pandas time-out. After capitalizing on a number of Pandas mistakes and getting kills from Fitzpatrick and Richards, the Heat pulled farther ahead and forced another Alberta time-out at 22-16 after an ace from Sara McCreary. Another Richards kill and one more ace by Skye Thompson finished it off, 25-17.
Fourth Set: (25-20)
The fourth started out with points being traded, as Alberta maintained a lead but couldn't pull away by more than pair of points. After tying it up at 8-8, the Heat offence got going and were able to pull ahead 13-10 and force an Alberta time-out. Defensive play at the net by the Heat forced Alberta to commit attacking errors, and had UBCO up 16-12 at the technical time-out.
A three-point run brought the Pandas within a pair after the break, and another brought them within a point down 20-19, but the Heat responded with three of their own to pull ahead 23-19. Back-to-back kills from Michelle Jakszuk provided the final two points, as the Heat finished it off 25-20 to take the match 3-1.
Michelle Jakszuk finished with a career-high 17 kills to lead the home side, followed by Siobhan Fitzpatrick (12) and Ann Richards (10). Sara McCreary had another impressive night, setting up the Heat hitters with 46 assists.
Jakszuk also had a career high-high with her team-leading 20 digs, Erin Drew had a team-high seven blocks, and Richards led the Heat with three service aces.
U of A:
Erin Corbett led the Pandas in kills, finishing with 12. Julia Zonneveld and Kory White each finished with 10. Shauntelle Hogg and Myja Wildenhoff each had a pair of service aces, and setter Eryn Orysiuk finished with 30 assists.
Zonneveld finished with a team-high 15 digs, while Wildenhoff had a high of five blocks.
By the Numbers:
The Heat finished the match ahead in all offensive categories, finishing with advantages in kills (57-41), hitting percentage (.245 - .110), and service aces (9-7).
Defensively, the Heat finished ahead in digs (71-53) and total blocks (19.5 – 15).
The UBC Okanagan Heat (9-4) and the University of Alberta Pandas (7-6) will play again tomorrow night, with first serve scheduled for 5PM in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium. Catch the action on Canadawest.TV.
~ Grayson B. Leahy – Heat Sports Information