Kelowna, B.C. - The UBC Thunderbirds moved one win closer to clinching a playoff spot with a three-set victory over the UBC Okanagan Heat on Friday night in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
An efficient attack and strong service would be the difference in the match, as the 'Birds can clinch a playoff spot with a victory tomorrow night.
With the loss, the Heat (6-15) will now need to win two of their last three matches to have any chance at making the postseason.
The match featured two of the top-four serving teams in terms of aces coming into the night, and the T-Birds would win the battle, finishing with 11 compared to just four for the Heat.
Setter and outside hitter Natalie Livingston would lead the way for the home squad, racking up nine kills, nine assists and four digs for the Heat.
Cara Kovacs would finish in double-figures for the 'Birds in terms of kills with 11, while middle Gabrielle Attieh had seven of her own along with four total blocks.
In the first set the visiting T-birds were up (16-11) at technical timeout thanks to a set of kills by Kovacs. Jayde Robertsen would add four kills on top of the visiting team's 4 service aces as UBC took the first set (25-17).
To start off the second set, the T-Birds went on a (7-0) run as the Heat struggled to halt their sister school's attack. The Heat would trail (16-5) at the technical timeout and UBC's (6-0) run, powered by a pair of kills from Kayla Oxland, would to close out the second set (25-10).
The Heat pushed back in the third set with a pair of kills and service aces that would kickstart a comeback as they tied the game twice through the set at (18-18) and (19-19).
The attempted comeback was led by Livingston, Helen Lacava, and Amaya Perry, however, the push would fall short as UBC took the final set (25-23).
Despite the loss, Heat head coach Steve Manuel was proud of the team's work and hopeful for tomorrow night's rematch.
"I can't say enough about the character of the team, how hard they're working. They're staying positive, they're training hard every day, and they're giving all they have. We'll reevaluate tomorrow and throw everything we have at the match again like we always do."
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at 4 p.m. PST in the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium.
Saturday night will feature as Graduating Player Night, as UBCO honours Keeley Bell and Claudia Corneil for their successes with the program. The ceremony is scheduled to take place following the Saturday night match.
All action can be watched live on Canada West tv presented by Co-op.
~Seyara Campbell, Heat Sports Information