CALGARY – A four-set loss to the University of Calgary Dinos women's volleyball team closed any chance the Heat may have had at grabbing a spot in the Canada West postseason.
UBC Okanagan needed to win both nights in this final conference weekend and hope that Winnipeg would lose both matches this weekend against Mount Royal.
The Wesmen obliged, falling in straight sets to the Cougars. However, the previously eliminated Dinos put on an impressive offensive performance to open their final series of the regular season reigning victorious against the Heat in a tight four-set match (25-20, 25-22, 24-26, 25-16) Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.
Second-year outside hitter Hellen Lacava came away with the top spot on the leaderboard with a double-double 16 kills, 10 digs and three blocks for the Heat, her 10th double-double of the season.
UBCO's Kenzie Wallace put up a wall on the Dinos offence, earning a match-high 10 blocks, a number double her previous career-high. The 10 blocks were also a single-match high this season for the Heat, and the first time an individual hit double digits in blocks since Michelle Jakszuk and Katy Klomps both notched 10 blocks at Thompson Rivers on Jan 17, 2015.
But the Dinos responded with Lexi Peart leading a tactfully balanced offense as Adriel Goodman, Autumn Davidson, and Trinity Solecki all earned double-digit kills: 13, 13 and 10, respectively.
"Autumn was really good tonight both blocking and attacking, I'm just really pleased with how she played tonight," said head coach Natalie Gurnsey. "Lexi set a really complete match, I was really happy with her selection and technical sets tonight.
"It's nice to get a win, UBCO can be a very scrappy team and we did a really good job on our serve-pass, we made some really good tactical defense adjustments."
Fifth-year Autumn Davidson led the charge in set one as three kills and two blocks from the 6-foot-1 middle scored five of the Dinos' first 10 points. Calgary hit a sparkling .250 on 14 kills compared to the Heat's .030 and nine. Although the Dinos and the Heat are similarly matched in their strong blocking frontlines and tough servers, the Dinos' ability to end long rallies with well-placed shots and big hustle plays led them to a 25-20 set one victory.
In set two, Lexi Peart led a fast-paced offense, setting up Adriel Goodman in multiple positions on the court for three kills in the first five points. The Heat quickly responded with two momentum-shifting blocks, but uncompromising hustle from the Dinos' defense powered them through for a 25-22 win.
Set three proved to be a back-and-forth battle of intensity, as neither team strayed further than three points ahead. However, rookie Amaya Perry's tough cross-court float serves had the Dinos struggling to produce viable offense, leading the Heat to a tight 26-24 win.
The Dinos responded with tenacity in set four and did not let up on the gas until the final point. Throughout the set, the Dinos did an excellent job of limiting unforced errors and putting the pressure on the Heat's offense with tough blocking, driving the squad to a 25-16 final set win.
For the Dinos, who have been eliminated from the postseason but will host the U SPORTS national championship in four weeks' time, the win was an important stepping stone.
A rematch between UBCO and the Dinos will go down Saturday at 1 p.m. PST in the Jack, where the Dinos will celebrate six senior players at their final home game.
~ With notes from Emily Wallace, Calgary Dinos Sports.