Behind a momentum-shifting third set comeback, the hometown Heat manage to outlast the Spartans in a two point margin at the end of the fifth and tally their second victory in two weeks against a team ranked No. 1 in Canada.
Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
UBC Okanagan Gymnasium, Kelowna, B.C.
|Trinity Western (3-1)||25||25||15||19||13||2|
|UBC Okanagan (2-2)||20||22||25||25||15||3|
KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team hosted the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans Saturday night in Kelowna, and the Heat emerged triumphant in what was the second consecutive night the two teams took the game to the final set (20-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-19, 15-13).
The win is the second time this season that the Heat have upended a No. 1 team, having downed the then-No. 1 Alberta Pandas in a weekend split during the opening weekend of league play, just last week (Oct 10-11).
After a heartbreaking loss the night before in another five-set marathon, the Heat regrouped and came into tonight ready to slay another giant. However, another excellent defensive showing by the Spartans, spearheaded by second-year middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, BC), kept the Heat offense off balance for the first two sets.
Not ones to allow an 0-2 hole to spell their doom, the Heat made the third frame the turning point in the match, as the they shifted the momentum their way behind a strong rallying cry from Heat middle and Player of the Game Katie Wuttunee (North Vancouver, BC), who brought a variance to the Heat attack to get past the size and positioning of Trinity at the net.
“We played not very good volleyball in the first two sets, but we stuck with what we were doing,” said Heat coach Steve Manuel after the game. Trinity captured the first two sets today 25-20, 25-22 winning five straight off the hosts from Friday evening on.
“We made a couple of adjustments and it paid off, and we played pretty good from there on in.” The third and fourth sets were won handily by the Kelowna squad 25-15, 25-19. Both squads played well in the fifth with UBC Okanagan gaining an edge on the back of a pair of service aces from Emily Oxland and then a few points later ending the set and the match 15-13.
Wuttunee was the most efficient player on the court, amassing a total of 10 kills and 5 blocks with a .400 kill percentage. Her impact on both sides of the net earned her the player of game honours.
Third-year outside hitter Megan Festival (Calgary, AB) led the attack for the Heat as she had a game-high 14 kills to go alongside nine digs. Libero Kailin Jones had 20 digs on the night.
A stronger defensive showing later in the match was critical to the Heat comeback, and fourth-year middle Katy Klomps (Surrey, BC) formed a tandem wall with Wuttunee. Klomps had a game-high seven total blocks (two solo, five assists).
With a team-high 13 kills and four blocks to her name, the Spartans’ third-year Sophie Carpentier (Ottawa, ON) was once again a thorn in the Heat’s side. Trinity boasts a distinct size advantage at the net, and second-year middle Katelyn Devaney (Port Coquitlam, BC) recorded the most blocks in the game with 11.
“Last night we did the hard things really well, and we didn’t do the easy things very well,” Manuel added. “So the message tonight was: ‘Let’s just do the easy things a little bit better. We need to make one better play every half hour tonight.’ Over two hours and fifteen minutes, that’s four or five plays, and that was the difference tonight, we came on top by two points.”
“Those are two of the best teams in the country, and I think that we have shown in the past two weekends that we’re there as well,” Manuel said, demonstrating the confidence he has in his team making another deep run this season.
UBC Okanagan is now 2-2 for the season, while Trinity’s first taste of defeat drops them to 3-1.
The Heat are at home to try and down another behemoth in the defending national champion Manitoba Bisons in back-to-back next weekend. Match times are 6 p.m. Friday and 5 p.m. Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Spartans are on the road at Alberta for the weekend Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Stream the action from home and view live stats at canadawest.tv.