Edmonton, AB - For the second consecutive night, the Heat women's volleyball team would fall to the MacEwan Griffins in four sets in what was their opening weekend of Canada West play.
The Heat would have the lead late on in both the first and fourth sets, but were unable to close the door on a pesky Griffins squad.
This marks the first since the Heat women have started the season 0-2 since they joined the Canada West during the 2011-12 season.
Rookie outside hitter Sydney Grills would lead the offense on the night for UBCO, putting up 14 kills in the match.
The visitors would come out slowly in the opening frame, as they would lose six of the first eight points to fall behind 6-2. The following stretch of points would be perhaps their best string of play all night, as they turned this four point deficit into a 19-14 lead following an Aidan Lea kill.
MacEwan would mount the comeback however and while the Heat had set point at 24-23, they were unable to close it out following a service error. UBCO would have another set point at 26-25 but Janna Ogle kept the set alive following a big swing. Carly Weber would ace the Griffins to a one point lead at 27-26 and another error from the Heat gave them the opening set 28-26.
A run of 10 Heat points in a 12 point span would give them a 20-16 lead in the second set, and they were able to close out the set thanks to an Aidan Lea service ace. The UBC Okanagan attack found their groove in the set, racking up 10 kills in the frame compared to just two hitting errors.
MacEwan would control the third from start to finish, scoring the first four points of the set which led to an eight point lead at the technical timeout. This advantage would be enough for the home team to cruise to a 25-16 third set victory over the Heat.
It would be a quicker start for UBCO in the fourth, as they scored five of the first six in the frame to build their advantage early on. The Griffins would continue their strong play however, recovering to lead going into the technical timeout up just a single point at 16-15. It looked like the Heat were going to force a decisive fifth set when they scored the following five points after the timeout to take a 20-16 lead in the frame. Sydney Grills would give the Heat the lead at 22-19 but MacEwan turned on the jets to score the last six points and close out the match.
Head coach Steve Manuel on the weekend:
"We have a completely new team," said Manuel. "We've graduated 12 starters in the last three years. We're completely new. We started three rookies here this weekend and we started two other players completely out of position because of the setter injury. "Both of our setters got injured in the last week, so our starting right side set for most of the weekend and she's also our best passer," he explained.
"We knew we were going to have some tough matches against some good teams like MacEwan that are veteran and play well together. We'll just have to build from here."
- Middle blocker Aidan Lea would be the only other Heat player in double-digit in terms of kills in the match, putting up 10 along with three service aces.
- The versatile Natalie Livingston did a little bit of everything in the match as she finished with 14 assists, 11 digs, six kills and four blocks.
- Janna Ogle would be the only Griffins player to finish in double figures in the match with 12 kills on the night.
- Middle Hailey Cornelis would be the other impact on the night for the home team, racking up nine kills, six blocks, and four digs.
Inside the numbers:
- MacEwan would have the upper hand in most of the significant statistical categories in the match including kills (43-40), assists (39-37) and service aces (12-10).
- The only spot the Heat held the advantage was in digs (54-45) and solo blocks (3-2).
- The Heat (0-2) will be back on the court next weekend when they have their home opener against the Trinity Western Spartans on Friday night (2-0). First serve on the 26th of October is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the UBC Okanagan gymansium.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information