WINNIPEG, MB - Still searching for the winning formula, Heat head coach Greg Poitras elected to shake-up the starting lineup Saturday night versus the Winnipeg Wesmen. A starting lineup that substituted Rylan Brouwer (3rd year, Merville, BC) for Jeremy Fostvelt (2nd year, Surrey, BC) at libero, Grant Sonnenberg (2nd year, Edmonton, AB) for Riley McFarland (5th year, Surrey, BC) at outside-hitter, and Davis Proch (4th year, Kelowna, BC) for Kristof Schlagintweit (1st year, Abbottsford, BC) at setter provided a different look on offense for the Heat. However, this new unit was unable to gel as the Heat fell in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-22).
Despite this new-look lineup, the Heat were unable to find their groove as a cohesive unit on this night. Jon Russo (2nd year, Lake Country, BC) once again led the Heat is scoring, contributing 12 kills on the night while enjoying a solid .296 kill percentage.
"Jon was once again our best attacker," commented head coach Greg Poitras following the match. "He was presented with some tough situations and grinded out a bunch of kills for us."
Davis Proch, thrust into the starting setter position, played well in extended time. He set up the Heat offense to the tune of 25 assists, 10 of which contributed to 10 kills by Greg Niemantsverdriet (4th year, Vernon, BC). Niemantsverdriet would add 5 digs on the night for the Heat as well.
Casey Schouten (1st year, Winnipeg, MB) was the thorn in the side of the Heat on Saturday night. The rookie outside hitter collected 13 kills on 19 attempts for an outstanding .684 kill percentage. A Heat defense that was only able to tally seven blocks were unable to slow a strong showing from Schouten.
Despite the result, the young starting unit for the Heat played inspired volleyball. The Heat remained in every set, but in the latter stages unforced errors pushed sets in favour of a Wesmen team fighting for a playoff spot.
"The Wesmen weren't as sharp as last night, but unfortunately we couldn't capitalize on that opportunity," finished Poitras
With the loss, the Heat fall to 2-18, while Winnipeg improves to 10-10.
The hometown Wesmen took a 16-14 lead into the technical timeout of the opening set. The Wesmen extended their lead to 21-17 when the Heat made things interesting. UBC Okanagan reeled off four straight points to tie the score at 21-21. Winnipeg recovered scoring four straight points to take the first set 25-21.
In the second set Winnipeg gained the advantage holding a 16-12 lead at the set break. The Heat stayed with the Wesmen and closed the gap to 21-19 later in the set. Jordon Rose came off the bench for Winnipeg and right away had a kill and his strong serving, including a service ace at set point gave the Wesmen the second set by a score of 25-19.
Set number three was a carbon copy of the first two. Winnipeg took a 16-11 lead into the break. The determined Heat squad used two runs down the stretch to close the Wesmen lead to 23-22. Schouten put the match away with back-to-back kills to close out the set at 25-23.
The Heat return home next weekend, February 8th and 9th, to host the Brandon University in the final weekend series of the 2012/2013 Canada West season. Friday's game will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday at 7 p.m.
Saturday, the final home game for UBC Okanagan, the Heat will honour the three graduating members of the squad with a small ceremony for Brett Uniat (Cochrane, AB), Riley McFarland (Surrey, BC), and Jeremy Kler (Vernon, BC).
Come cheer on your UBC Okanagan Heat men's volleyball team for one last time this season!
All the action can be viewed on www.canadawest.tv
- With notes from Sheldon Appelle (Winnipeg Sports Information)