News Feed (, Volleyball (M) | February 16, 2012

It’s best 2 of 3 as the Heat tackle No. 2 Manitoba for a trip to the National Championship

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UBC Okanagan Men’s Volleyball - 2012 Playoff Schedule
Thursday, February 16 - Volleyball - UBC Okanagan versus No. 2 Manitoba Bisons (Men 5 p.m. PST, 7 p.m. CT) at Investors Group Athletic Centre, Winnipeg, MB [Map] [Live Video]
Friday, February 17 –Volleyball - UBC Okanagan versus No. 2 Manitoba Bisons (Men 5 p.m. PST, 7 p.m. CT) at Investors Group Athletic Centre, Winnipeg, MB [Map] [Live Video]
* Saturday, February 18 –Volleyball - UBC Okanagan versus No. 2 Manitoba Bisons (Men 5 p.m. PST, 7 p.m. CT) at Investors Group Athletic Centre, Winnipeg, MB[Map] [Live Video]

* if necessary


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Canada West Media Notes

HEAT (8-12)

CIS National Ranking: N/A
CanWest Standings: 7th
Last Week: 2-0; Fri 3-0 win over TRU, Sat 3-0 win over TRU
Streak: 3 wins
2010 CanWest Record: N/A
2010 CanWest Championship: N/A
2010 CIS Tournament: N/A
Last CanWest Title: N/A
Last CIS Title: N/A

KELOWNA, B.C. –The Heat will play the No. 2 Manitoba Bisons in a best two of three starting Thursday February 16 with all games taking place at the Investors Group Athletic Centre on the University of Manitoba campus in Winnipeg.  In their regular season match up in November the Heat played the Bisons in Manitoba and fell both nights.

The winner of the upcoming best of three that starts this Thursday (Feb. 16) goes Friday, and Saturday if necessary; all games at 7 p.m. CT. The winner will advance to the Canada West Final Four tournament hosted by Trinity Western, the regular season Canada West champion. All four teams at the championship will receive an automatic berth to the CIS championship March 2-4 at Queen’s University.

Last Weekend: The men’s team took care of business this past weekend in grand fashion and to the pleasure of the large partisan crowd on hand as they impressively dispatched the Thompson Rivers WolfPack both Friday (25-16, 25-23, 25-18) and Saturday (25-16, 25-12, 25-21) nights in straight sets. On Friday UBC Okanagan used an efficient attack (a .433 kill efficiency) to dispatch TRU; they were led by Riley McFarland with 16 points. Nate Speijer and Brett Uniat followed with 11 and 10 points respectively. Riley McFarland was a force at the net with 5 blocks, while Mark Broome added 4 blocks. On Saturday, Greg Niemantsverdriet led the Heat with 16 points. Riley McFarland was right behind with 15 points. The Heat attacked for a season high .488 kill efficiency. They also held Thompson Rivers to only 20 kills on the night. Preston Tucker distributed the ball very well, keeping the TRU defense and block on the edge from start to finish. Fifth year Spencer Brown, playing his last game at home for the Heat, came in and contributed some key serves and a handful of strong defensive plays.

Third year OH Greg Niemantsverdriet on the emotions of coming back and winning their last three to get into postseason: “Emotionally it was great. After that Saskatchewan match … we were obviously on Cloud Nine … coming home, having that crowd base at home picked us up.”

Need to be Road Warriors: The Heat went an amazing 7-3 at home and a not so impressive 1-9 on the road. The bright light for UBC Okanagan is that they won their last game on the road (Feb. 4 at SASK). The team at home averaged 18.1 points per set at home compared to 14.2 points per set on the road. McFarland is especially more effective at home with 150 kills in Kelowna as opposed to 69 in other gyms.

Coach Greg Poitras on their road woes: “It’s not the first time we’ve played away at another gym, we just haven’t closed the deal on a team on the road except for Saskatchewan. It’s kind of a test of what we learned and we gained from that Saskatchewan weekend as to whether we’ll play at a high level on this next road trip.”

Third year OH Greg Niemantsverdriet on what they need to do in order to be as good on the road as they are at home: “I think being together and not letting the crowd get into our heads too much. Really just focusing on the task at hand, and playing with no fear. We didn’t have the best of luck on the road, but I think we’ve played really well and just couldn’t get those couple points that could’ve pushed us over the hill.”

Coach Greg Poitras on whether or not he is surprised to be here: “I think we’re a little surprised more so because of the losses we had in the middle of the season. Then things started to get close in the end with teams trying to make playoffs … we’re flabbergasted by the opportunity to now make another goal to knock off a top team … and we’ll see what happens.”

Peaking at the right time: The Heat have won their last three matches, and five of their last six to qualify for the post season. In the last six games the team has really been able to score points, with a .307 hitting percentage. Much better than the .187 they were at on Jan. 22.

Coach Poitras on how they’ve built their confidence in the latter part of the season: “One of the major builders of confidence was the U of A weekend. We were missing one of our best attackers … and we went to battle with U of A … that sort of helped our confidence because we had guys out there that hadn’t been playing. And the Saskatchewan Saturday was definitely the turning point- especially after a weak Friday showing … that was showing we were playing good ball against a good team.”

Coach Greg Poitras on how they got to where they are: “We’ve been getting sharper and sharper as the season goes on … started out pretty strong, then we had that drought … but we kept our mindset on being patient … lot of teams after eleven straight matches losing will just fold their tents and go home. We knew we had to be patient, we knew we had to get better, and we knew the grind of the season was going to help us.”

Niemantsverdriet on his and his teammate’s confidence levels: “I think we’re all super confident. All this momentum we’ve got … we’ve come a long way since we’ve seen them in the beginning of the year. I think now we’ve turned around entirely. Team-wise we’re all together … I think all our momentum is against them now. It’s going to behuge.”

Heat players on the Canada West leaderboard: Outside hitter Nate Speijer (4th year, Penticton, BC) is fourth in points at 4.55 per game, third in kills 3.98 per game, 19th in hitting percentage .255, and sixth with 19 aces in 64 games.  Riley McFarland (4th year, outside hitter, Surrey, BC) is 11th in points at 3.84 per game, his 1.83 digs per match put him 23rd and he is 10th with 3.34 kills per game. Middle blocker Brett Uniat (4th year, Cochrane, AB) is sixth in blocks with a 1.16 average per game, and he hits at a .283 attack percentage, good for 13th in the league. Graduating setter Preston Tucker (Vernon, BC) averages 9.93 assists per match, placing him seventh.

Canada West stats: The Heat are seventh in hitting percentage at .223, seventh in opponents hitting percentage at .237, seventh in assists at 11.49 per game, seventh in conference kills at 12.21, fourth in blocks at 2.76 per game, sixth in service aces at 1.00 and eighth in conference digs at 9.93.

This weekend’s opponent:

CIS National Ranking: No. 2
CanWest Standings:  2nd
Previous Week: 2-0; Fri 3-0 win over SASK, Sat 3-0 win over SASK
Streak: 4 wins
2011 CanWest Record: 11-7
2011 CanWest Playoffs: 0-2
Last CanWest Title: 2003
Last CIS Title: 2003

Manitoba’s record: The Bisons swept Saskatchewan last weekend to finish their season off with an 18-2 record, good enough for second in the conference and earning the Bisons a No. 2 national ranking. The two losses for the Bisons were to the No. 4 Alberta Golden Bears in five sets Nov. 26, and to No. 1 Trinity Western Jan. 28 in straight sets; both losses were at home. The Bisons were the only team to beat the No. 1 Spartans, knocking them off in three sets Jan. 27. Over the winter break Manitoba played UCLA, UCSB, and California Baptist, taking out UCSB in five sets and falling to the other California schools.

Bisons in the postseason: The Bisons reached the post-season for the third consecutive year and seek to advance to the Canada West Final Four for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

vs. CANADIAN UNIVERSITIES 871 211 80.50%
vs. CLUB TEAMS 164 26 86.32%
vs. ALL COMPETITION 1194 321 78.81%

Coaching legend: Manitoba’s head coach Garth Pischke is in his 31st season as Bisons men’s volleyball head coach, and has guided the Bisons to the CIS National Championships 25 times. Under Pischke, Manitoba have collected nine CIS gold medals, nine CIS silver medals, three CIS bronze medal, three fourth place finishes, and their lowest CIS Championship showing being a fifth place finish.

At home: The Herd is 9-2 so far this season when playing at the Investors Group Athletic Centre.

Canada West stats: The Bisons are third in hitting percentage at .255, first in opponents hitting percentage at .148, fifth in assists at 11.89 per game, fifth in conference kills at 12.67, first in blocks at 3.46 per game, tenth in service aces at 0.79 and second in conference digs at 12.41. 

Head-to-head: (Heat’s record this year is: 1-2) UBC Okanagan and Manitoba met in the third week of the Canada West volleyball regular season (Nov. 11-12). In what was the Heat’s first league road trip of the year, the then No. 3 Bisons took out the then No. 10 Heat (3-1 at the time with all games at UBC Okanagan to that point) in straight sets both nights. Friday: (25-23, 25-20, 25-17), Saturday: (25-19, 25-22, 25-20). The two teams met once in the preseason where UBC Oknaagan was able to outlast Manitoba in five tight sets (28-26, 23-25, 25-22, 24-26, 16-14).

Players to watch: Individually, Dane Pischke is 11th in Canada West hitting percentage at .295 plus second in conference kills at 4.00 per game, second in points at 4.62 per game and ninth in digs at 2.23 per game; Chris Voth is seventh in conference kills at 3.47 plus sixth in points at 4.19 per game and 11th in service aces at 0.25 per game; Chris Komishon is fifth in assists at 10.42 and 12th in conference blocks at 1.00 per game; Joseph Brooks is second in Canada West blocks at 1.41 while Carson Kauenhowen is third at 1.30 per game; Derek Nieroda is second in conference digs at 3.29 per game while fifth year Ryan Munt is 11th in conference digs at 2.22.

Coach Poitras on how they need to approach the Manitoba matchup: “We need to go in with some confidence I think. We would sure like another chance to play [this] team again because we lost three sets to none, three sets to none, but there was a lot of opportunities to win sets, and we just couldn’t close the deal on a good team at that point of the season. Now, we feel like after the Saskatchewan comeback we can play better over a longer period of time. We should go into [it] a little more confident. We’re up for a challenge, but out of all the teams we had a shot at playing against, this is the one we wanted to play again by the end of the year.”

                - With notes from Chris Zuk (University of Manitoba Sports Information)

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