The two Canada West heavyweights takes over 2.5 hours and five long sets to decide a victor Friday night in Kelowna as the visiting Spartans hand a 3-2 loss to UBC Okanagan.
Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
UBC Okanagan Gymnasium, Kelowna, B.C.
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KELOWNA, B.C. – In what will go down as one of the most drama filled regular season matches in history on UBC Okanagan hardwood, the hometown Heat women's volleyball team danced a long night with the visiting No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans, who recovered a 2-0 deficit to win a fifth and deciding set 19-17 for the victory (29-31, 19-25, 25-20, 29-27, 19-17).
Up in a commanding 2-0 edge, the Heat seemed primed to handily take their first match this weekend against the Spartans to notch their second time this season taking out a CIS No. 1 (they dispatched then-No.1 Alberta in the season opener).
Despite a comeback in the third set, Trinity was on the ropes in a 24-21 edge for UBC Okanagan. However, the Heat could not bury the Spartans, who eventually emerged victorious 29-27. In fact UBC Okanagan was up 20-11 very quickly in the fourth set.
An early 7-2 hole in the fifth made hope a bleak prospect for the home team, but the Heat would rally to once again put the Spartans on the ropes with a 14-12 cushion. However, excellent service by Trinity's Casie Gano put pressure on the Heat reception, and the though both teams continued trading blows, the Spartans would win the night.
"It felt like we were in control, but we couldn't finish," said rookie Okanagan libero Sophia Furlan (Calgary, AB) postgame, with regards to her team's coming close but not quite close enough to finish off the Spartans. "But we put up so much fight … it was just unfortunate that we missed a couple of plays here and there." On the bench we were going crazy because of the great volleyball that was happening tonight, and it was just unfortunate that we missed a couple of plays here and there."
Once again, it was fourth-year outside hitter Brianna Beamish (Surrey, BC) leading the charge, as she racked up a game-high 21 kills.
The core battle was between the middle blockers, as both the Heat's Katy Klomps (4th year, Surrey, BC) and Trinity's Alicia Perrin (5th year, Creston, BC) put up two solo blocks and seven block assists apiece, each coming up clutch in momentum-shifting moments of the match.
UBC Okanagan's other middle Katie Wuttunee (N. Vancouver, BC) was second on the team with 12 kills, Megan Festival finished with 12 as well.
Perrin was second on her squad with 12 kills (.233%) behind Sophie Carpentier who finished with 19 kills and 13 digs.
The matchup was billed as a showcase of heavyweights and the teams did not disappoint as the entire night would display a truly elite level of CIS volleyball. Both teams regularly traded punches and would need extra points to determine set outcomes.
"On [our] bench we were going crazy because of the great volleyball that was happening tonight," said Furlan of the intensity of the battle happening on the hardwood.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Heat, who were hoping to avenge their 2014 Final Four Bronze Medal match defeat against the very same Spartans.
Dwindling offensive production as the match went on would give the Heat a hard time in sealing the deal. They came out with twenty and sixteen kills in the first and second sets, only to see those numbers decline to ten and eight in the third and fourth.
UBC Okanagan is now 1-2 for the season, while Trinity Western maintains its throne with a 3-0 clean slate.
Both teams are back at each other again tomorrow night for the second of their back-to-back this weekend. Match time is set for 5 p.m.
Furlan made the message clear in anticipation of the rematch: "We're ready to play. We've already forgotten this match and we're on to the next one."
Stream the action at home and follow live stats at canadawest.tv
HEAT NOTES: The lone rookie on the 2014-15 squad, Sophia Furlan, got ample time for her first-ever appearance in front of the home crowd in Heat uniform. The libero played in four sets and contributed two digs and one assist in her time on the floor.