Kelowna, B.C. - Led once again by the combination of Ann Richards and Jade Bussard, the UBC Okanagan Heat would take care of business on Saturday night on their home floor against the Brandon Bobcats in four sets.
Both Richards and Bussard would finish the match with matching double-doubles, Richards with 15 kills and 10 digs, while the rookie Bussard finished with 13 and 13.
The Heat had the advantage from the start, capturing the opening two sets by 25-20 and 25-23 scorelines. Brandon pushed the home team in the third, including staving off a match point and then the 'Cats would push the match into a fourth set.
UBCO would not be denied of their second win of the season on the night as they closed the fourth extremely well to win the match.
Nikala Majewski continued her strong play for Brandon with 20 kills and eight digs on the night while Michelle Egger chipped in with 10 kills of her own.
Brandon drops their record to 3-7 in a losing effort in the UBC Okanagan gym.
Heat head coach Steve Manuel noted his team is starting to put things together and learning to close out games. "The team's doing the right things, the players are working as hard as they possibly can out there. I've always said as a coach the hardest thing to teach is how to win, so for us we have a lot of changes, even after the season started. Winning is huge and we're starting to get a sense of how to win."
The match would once again come down to hitting percentage, as the Heat committed six fewer attack errors then the visitors (19-25) which led to a much better attack percentage (.221 - .142).
Three Jade Bussard service aces early in the first set would give the Heat the lead as they scored six straight going into the media timeout after trailing early on. They would make it eight straight points in a row following timeout and this large lead would be enough for them to close out the opener 25-19.
The momentum would continue for the Heat to open the second as they built at 16-9 lead midway through the set but the 'Cats would not go away, pushing the set right till the end. A big swing from Nikala Majewski cut the deficit to just one for Brandon at 24-23 but rookie Jade Bussard shut the door on the set with a clutch kill.
With multiple lead changes in the third frame, the two teams would never gain any separation from each other as it once again came down to the wire. The Heat had an opportunity at match point (24-23) but Nicole Ashauer tied things up and two Brandon points later enabled them to extend the match to a fourth set.
It was all UBCO from the start in the fourth as they scored the opening five points of the set to build an early lead but once again Brandon would not go away, tying things up at 15 later on. Neither team had more then a two point advantage the rest of the frame, with the Heat coming up big down the stretch. Aidan Lea would close out the match for the home team at 25-23 in the fourth on a quick middle attack.
The Heat (2-8) will take to the road for their final action prior to the Christmas break as they take on the Saskatchewan Huskies (2-7) in Saskatoon next weekend. Brandon (3-7) will continue their road trip against the Manitoba Bisons (3-7) in Winnipeg prior to their Christmas break.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information