KELOWNA, B.C. - Rookie Sydney Grills finished with a career-high 22 kills but the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack booked their ticket to the postseason with a five set victory on Friday night.
The team two teams went back-and-forth all night long in the Furnace, splitting the opening four sets. TRU had a playoff birth in their sites and closed the Heat out in the fifth by a 15-9 scoreline to earn the hard-fought victory.
TRU improves to 12-11 on their Canada West season and sits tied-sixth in the standings with a game to go. The Heat drop to 2-21 for their campaign and will look to close their season with a victory on Saturday.
The win also clinched the Women's Presidents' Cup trophy for TRU, as the WolfPack are now 4-1-1 across all Canada West sports. For full history on the competition and for the scoring matrix you can click here
These two teams will meet again tomorrow night in the Okanagan Gym at 5 p.m. PST. Senior's Ann Richards, Aidan Lea, and Sophia Furlan will be honoured following their match as tomorrow will be their final in a Heat uniform.
While Grills finished with 22 kills in the match to lead the home team, three others finished in double-figures including Aidan Lea with 19 and six blocks, Jade Bussard with 13 and 17 digs and Ann Richards with 11 put-aways. Setter Natalie also finished with a career-high 55 assists for the home team to go with 13 digs.
"Sydney has been on fire and Jade was unbelievable especially in those first couple of sets that we won and again, there was some really good things happening and I think despite how we are feeling now about our record with all the injuries we have had, I think that the future is really bright." commented Heat head coach Steve Manuel following his teams tight loss.
For TRU it was all Kendra Finch and Olga Savenchuk, who both finished with double-doubles led by Finch's 19 kills and 10 digs. Both also had three service aces and multiple blocks.
The service line was one of the key factors on the night, as the 'Pack had 12 aces and just five errors while UBCO had five aces and a season-high 18 service errors.
The Heat started out on fire in the opening set on the offensive end as they had one of their best set of the season, tallying 22 kills and just four attack errors in the frame. Even with this hot-hitting, UBCO still had to come back from a 19-15 deficit late on to tie things up at 21 all. Jade Bussard gave the home team set point at 24-23 on a big swing and Ann Richards closed things out with a big swing from the right side.
After UBCO went 12-7 in the second the visiting 'Pack found their rhythm and score 10 of the next 12 points to take control of the second. While the Heat tied things back up at 21 once again, the visitors closed with four straight points including a Kendra Finch service ace on set point.
Once again in the third it was a hot start by the home team as they held a commanding 16-8 lead at the media timeout and while the 'Pack made things interesting late on, the Heat closed out the third 25-21 to take a one set lead. UBCO's attack was hard to stop in the third as well, racking up 14 kills and just three attack errors in the frame.
Thompson Rivers' attack woke up in the fourth, as they hit nearly .500 in the frame and held the lead throughout the entire frame to force things into a pressure-packed and deciding fifth set.
In the deciding frame, the 'Pack took control early on, scoring four straight to take a 6-3 advantage and would build open this in the ensuing points. While the home team cut the deficit to two at 8-6 they were unable to get any closer, falling 15-9 in the final frame.
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat Sports Information