KELOWNA, BC - The Mount Royal Cougars women's volleyball team would come into the Heat's home gym and pulled out a highly-contested three set win on Friday night at UBC Okanagan.
All three sets were decided by two points in the match (26-24, 26-24, 25-23) with the third set being nearly one of the greatest single-set comebacks in Heat program history.
UBCO would trail 14-1 to start the third set but would play some of their best volleyball of the season as they tied the set up at 23 thanks to multiple runs of five consecutive points.
Perhaps they had used up all their gas however as Chantel Park gave the Cougars match point at 24-23 and she would finish the job herself with a service ace to win another nail-biting set.
Mount Royal improves their record to above .500 (4-3) with the victory on the night as they have now won two of their last three matches. UBCO, with the loss, will continue to search for that elusive first win of the season on Saturday, their record is now (0-7)
Senior outside hitter Ann Richards did lots of the damage for the Heat on the night as she had a game-high 11 kills on just 17 total attacks along with five digs and three blocks.
For Mount Royal it was Chantel Park falling just short of a double-double with eight kills and eight digs for the visitors while Cassidy Kitchen had seven put-aways of her own.
Head coach Steve Manuel noted that injuries and a young team have led to some growing pains early in the season. "We're just working through some stuff and we have had such a string of injuries that were still trying to find that rhythm as a team. We lose to a good team like Mount Royal by two points in every set so again we just gotta keep building on that."
Three straight Heat points late in the set would cut their deficit to just two at 22-20. After the visitors won the following point to extend the lead to three, UBCO scored four straight to earn set point at 24-23 but were unable to capitalize. A kill from Carly Davies kept the set alive and Nicky Zalasky served up a big ace to give MRU a set point and Dholi Thokboum closed it out with a big swing.
The second set would follow a similar script to the first, with the Cougars repeating their first set victory by a 26-24 scoreline. At one point in the second the home team would trail 20-16 and fight back to tie things up at 22 all following a Sadie Taylor-Parks service ace. The two teams would be tied up at 24 and the final two points went the Cougars way as they took a two set lead.
14 of the first 15 points in the third would go Mount Royal's way as they built up a 16-5 lead heading into the third set technical timeout. The home team would play like a team possessed in the final points of the match as they were able to comeback from the nearly insurmountable deficit to tie the match up at 23 all. Chantel Park gave the Cougars match point at 24-23 and she would finish the job herself with a service ace to close the match out.
The Heat (0-7) and Cougars (4-3) will meet up once again tomorrow night in the UBC Okanagan gym with first serve going at 5 p.m. PST.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information