WINNIPEG – An 11-match UBC Okanagan winning streak was ended today as the University of Manitoba Bisons finished their season by upsetting the No. 1 Heat after a 3-1 (23-25, 29-27, 25-18, 25-22) win at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The Bisons win secured a Canada West playoff spot in women's volleyball for Manitoba who finished the year with a 12-12 record, while the U SPORTS number one Heat finished the year with a 19-5 record.
UBC Okanagan controlled the action early but had trouble closing out the Bisons in the first set. Manitoba used that momentum to jump ahead in set two only to have the Heat take the lead late. UBCO, not being able to finish two set points saw the Bisons win the pivotal second (29-27) and then surge for the upset, spoiling the perfect 2018 record of the Heat.
Up next – Playoff edition:
The Heat finish third in Canada West and the Bisons ended up in sixth, these two squads will resume niceties in the first round Canada West playoffs on Feb. 23-25 in Kelowna, B.C. The first serve of the CW Quarter-final match in Kelowna on Friday is at 6 p.m., march two runs Saturday at 5 p.m. and the third match, if necessary, is scheduled for Sunday at 4 p.m. All matches in the gym at UBC Okanagan.
First set (23-25)
UBC Okanagan jumped out to a 9-5 lead in the first set, forcing Bison head coach Ken Bentley to call a timeout. This didn't appear to stop the damage, as the Heat continued their torrid pace. The Heat led by 10 points at the technical timeout after a serving run of seven points from Michelle Jakszuk. A service run from Bison left side hitter Ayiya Ottogo made it close in the end, but Siobhan Fitzpatrick smacked home the set winning kill, her third kill of the set. Ann Richards went for four kills on seven swings, while Sophia Furlan and Fitzpatrick both had six digs.
Second set (29-27)
In the second set, carrying momentum from the first, Manitoba came out with an 8-4 lead. The home side held the lead to the technical timeout with some kills from middle Jocelyn Koswin. The top-ranked Heat were not going to roll over and die, as the set went longer but Manitoba managed to win 29-27. With that set victory the Bisons secured a playoff berth. Ann Richards was a force in the second with nine kills on nine swings in the lengthy set, also pulling up three digs.
Third set (25-18)
After starting the match slow, Bison Kearley Abbott picked up steam in the third set, earning some key kills to give Manitoba a 16-11 lead. Abbott got the set winning kill after powering through the kill to give the Bisons a 25-18 set win. Koswin and Abbott both had five kills in the third set. Natalie Livingston, setting for most of the third, contributed a pair of blocks.
Fourth set (25-22)
With Manitoba taking the lead early in each of the last two sets, the fourth set was much tighter with each team exchanging points. On a serving run from Laura Findlay, the Bisons pulled away, leading 16-11 at the technical timeout. Emily Erickson ended the night with a block to pull off the upset. Graduating players, Fitzpatrick and Michelle Jakszuk combined for 26 attacks in the third finishing with three and four kills respectively.
Manitoba's co-captain and setter, Brittany Habing who returned for her fifth season of eligibility with the Bisons after last playing for the Herd in 2014-15, was all over the court for the home team, finished with 43 assists, five kills, 13 digs, and four blocks.
Not only was this the first loss of the second semester for UBCO, it was the only time they dropped more than a set in a match.
Three UBC Okanagan players compiled their final Canada West regular season stats:
Erin Drew (MB, Rutland Secondary, Kelowna) 85 matches, 254 sets, 302 kills, (.316%), 85 aces, 245 blocks.
Siobhan Fitzpatrick (OH, Immaculata High, Kelowna) 75 matches, 217 sets, 548 kills, 2.53 k/set, 472 digs, 2.18 digs/set, 641 points.
Michelle Jakszuk (OH, Elphinstone Secondary, Gibsons, BC) 106 matches, 342 sets, 584 kills, 503 digs, 200 blocks, 734.5 points.
Bison notes: Fifth year setter Brittany Habing and fourth year middle Emily Erickson were honoured prior to playing their last match at home.
~ With notes from Ryan Stelter, Bison Sports