CALGARY – In front of a packed crowd of young club volleyball players and alumni, the University of Calgary Dinos defensive stamina came out on top in a four-set seniors' day match against the UBC Okanagan Heat Saturday afternoon in the Jack Simpson Gym (25-19, 17-25, 25-20, 25-14).
First-year Heat attacker Amaya Perry handled the bulk of the offence for the Heat, as she claims the number one spot in statistics with 13 kills, four aces and five digs. Meanwhile, the Dinos senior middles were their offensive catalyses as Beth Vinnell earned 12 kills, four blocks, 11 digs and an impressive .450 hitting percentage, followed closely behind by Autumn Davidson with 10 kills and six blocks.
Set one was nothing but a solid showing of the Dinos' defensive efforts as the blocking frontline shut down the Heat's primary attackers with six total blocks. Rachel Solecki spurred the charge for the Dinos in the first 25 points of the match with four kills, one block and four digs. Despite offensive pushback from Heat outside Hellen Lacava, consistent defence and minimal mistakes carried the Dinos through for a 25-19 win.
In set two, the Dinos struggled to find their tempo on offence, faltering to find accuracy with their front row shots. Meanwhile, the Heat surged ahead from behind the service line, earning six aces in set two alone. The Heat gained huge moments of energy from shutting down long rallies, pushing past for a set two 25-17 win.
Set three started out bumpy for the Dinos defence, as the Heat left them scrambling on well-placed line shots. The Dinos got back on track after a few momentum-shifting kills from senior Adriel Goodman, and the Dinos managed to eliminate the Heat's five-point lead. At 16-16, Beth Vinnell rolled through with an eight-point serving run, allowing the Dinos to wrap up set three with a 25-20 win.
In set four, Kennedy Snape boosted an all-around strong performance in the back row, earning seven of her 13 total digs. The Dinos put an end to the Heat's serving streaks and minimized defensive errors, shutting out the Heat from point-winning offence. All-around consistent play from the Dinos steered the way for a 25-14 final win of the afternoon.
UBCO ends their season with a 7-17 record and although that record was just a win or two-shy of a playoff spot the future looks very bright for the Heat squad.
Consider this for UBCO:
- True freshmen Amaya Perry played in all 24 matches for the Heat. From the service line, she set a conference record with 59 aces. That mark obliterated the UBCO single-season record and is the fourth highest in mark all-time in the conference. Her 227 kills this season also set a school record for first-year players.
- Just in her second year, but first with the Heat, Hellen Lacava proved herself as a consistent scorer in the Canada West conference. Her 266 kills were the sixth-highest total in the conference this season.
- Fourth-year Natalie Livingston, who was injured for today's final match, had a great all-around season. Playing as a setter, as a hitter, and even as a middle, the swiss army knife player for coach Manuel put up impressive numbers all over the place. She was most impressive on the block and finished 5th in the conference with 91 total blocks. She added 106 kills, 30 aces, 214 digs, and 526 assists for a very well-rounded stat line.
- Perry broke Sydney Grills UBCO rookie season kill mark by one this year. Grills, a member of the Canada West All-Rookie team last year, was injured for nearly the entire 2019-20 season and ended up being a medical redshirt. She will be 100 per cent ready to go at training camp this summer.
- Joining Grills last year on the conference all-rookie team was Jade Bussard. Bussard started her sophomore season off with a bang, and she was consistently in the league leaders list for kills and attacks. Her season was also cut short via injury. Bussard, like Grills, will be 100 per cent ready to go next season.
Those notes just touch the surface at the talent that will be ready to go for UBCO next season. Expect the Heat to be turned up in the Furnace next year in women's volleyball, when this crew rolls together.
The Dinos have their sights set towards hosting the 2020 U SPORTS Championship, March 12-15 in the Jack Simpson Gym.
~ With notes from Emily Wallace, Calgary Dinos Sports.