Women’s Volleyball (Canada West Quarter-finals – Best 2 of 3)
Healthy Living Center, Brandon, Manitoba
|SET SCORES||1||2||3||SERIES RECORD (Best 2 of 3)|
BRANDON, MB – Making their way to Brandon for the first round of the Canada West playoffs, the Heat women’s volleyball team employed a strong service game that kept the Bobcats off balance all evening, and UBC Okanagan would trounce the second-ranked team in the country in straight sets 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-12) to take the first game of the series.
“We played fearless tonight,” said Heat head coach Steve Manuel following the victory. “Serving was a big part of the win, but we served well because of how we were playing. We played free.”
The Heat’s victory was truly built from the service line, as UBC Okanagan would connect on 10 service aces over the course of the three set match – 4 of which came from Emily Oxland (2nd year, North Vancouver, BC). An inability to solve the Heat serve had a trickle-down effect on the Brandon offense, as first touch struggles made second touch even harder for setter Kellie Baker in trying to set up the offense. As a result, Brandon’s fearsome foursome of Shanlee McLennan, Vaovai Aiono, Meaghan Robertson, and Victoria Dakin was anything but in this game as they hit a combined .043 in the three sets.
The Heat knew they had to have equal contributions from all offensive players if they hoped to have a chance versus the depth of Brandon, and UBC Okanagan certainly rose to the challenge. Megan Festival (2nd year, Calgary, AB) would connect on the first kill of the game, and she would proceed to take over the first set alongside her sister, Jillian Festival (5th year, Calgary, AB), as the Festival’s finished with 11 of the Heat’s 25 points in the set.
The sister duo would continue their strong play into the second set, and Brianna Beamish (3rd year, Surrey, BC) would add to her three kills in the first set with six in the second. Beamish would add three big kills from the outside in the third set, while Katie Wuttunee (3rd year, North Vancouver, BC) had three services aces in four serves at 14-10 to put the game out of reach at 18-10.
Megan Festival and Brianna Beamish would finish with 12 kills each for the Heat, while Jillian Festival, Katy Klomps, and Katie Wuttunee would add 8 kills, 4 kills, and 4 kills respectfully. Lenai Schmidt (5th year, Vernon, BC) was a rock for the Heat back-row all evening, passing with poise and digging 10 Brandon attacks over the three set match. It was a total team effort from UBC Okanagan, and undeniably their most important win of the season so far.
“We had good preparation leading up to tonight, and we just played our game,” added Manuel. “For the first time in a long time, it felt like it was 0-0 for both teams with just the match on the line.”
Manuel went on to add, “We’ve essentially been playing playoff volleyball since Christmas with how our schedule was this year – it was tough. But I think that it played to our benefit tonight.”
Now leading the series one game to none, the Heat will have the chance to close out the Bobcats Friday evening from the HLC. The first serve is scheduled for 5 pm PST.