Three Heat girls in double-digit kill totals en route to No. 4 UBC Okanagan’s ouster of the defending CIS national champion Bisons 3-1
Women’s Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
UBC Okanagan Gymnasium, Kelowna, B.C.
|UBC Okanagan (3-2)||25||20||25||25||3|
KELOWNA, B.C. – It was another day, another CIS elite squad as the No. 4 UBC Okanagan Heat hosted the 2014 national champions in the Manitoba Bisons Friday night in Kelowna, with the home team walking away with a 3-1 decider (25-15, 19-25, 26-11, 25-23).
A dominant, balanced and most importantly, efficient performance by the home squad kept Manitoba on the backs of their feet for most of the match. Even after trying to force a fifth set in a neck-and-neck affair in the fourth, the Bisons would still be playing from behind the majority of the time as UBC Okanagan served out the final rally of the night for a two-point set and match victory.
A first set clinic was put on by the Heat as they outplayed their top-billed opponents by a eight point margin, committing zero errors and hitting a ridiculous .615 in that frame.
The lone set won by the Bisons was largely marked by a high volume of attack errors on the part of the Heat. Eight of UBC Okanagan’s 20 attack errors came in that frame, and they had 11 total errors for that set as well, the largest margin of error by either team for the night.
Back on track in the third set, the Heat easily dispatched their prairie foes in another highly efficient attacking set, and though Manitoba put up fight in the fourth, the Heat were able to close the night out.
Manitoba’s co-captain Rachel Cockrell (Winnipeg, MB) showed again why she’s the conference’s top scorer. She posted a game-high 18 kills (.235) while also recording three total blocks and eight digs.
Cockrell’s fellow co-captain Brittany Habing (East St. Paul, MB) had 30 assists and 14 digs on the night.
The Heat defense consistently swarmed on the Bison attack as UBC Okanagan’s front line kept Manitoba to a team .115 hitting percentage. The Kelowna team won the battle of the block 11-9 for the night.
Third-year outside hitter Megan Festival (Calgary, AB) led the Heat with 16 kills. Fourth-year middle Katie Wuttunee (N. Vancouver, BC) and fourth-year outside hitter Brianna Beamish (Surrey, BC) joined Festival in double-digit kills with 13 and 10, respectively. Wuttunee was the most efficient offensive player on either side of the net (.409).
The Heat once again broke through against an elite team with a very balanced attack and effort from numerous starters and those coming off the bench.
“We have a very deep team and we have a lot of confidence in our young players, and we’re not afraid to play them, and I think that’s a big difference,” Heat coach Steve Manuel said of the talent and work level of his entire roster. “You can look down the bench and we’re not afraid to put people in there at various times.”
Chandler Proch (Kelowna, BC), led the team in assists (28) playing setter for much of the second, third set and fourth set coming off the bench for UBC Okanagan is an example of the depth.
The No. 4 Heat improve to 3-2 for the season, while unranked Manitoba is now 2-3. Both teams will face each other again tomorrow night at 6 p.m. as the Heat will attempt its first weekend sweep of the season.
Winning the weekend will not be easy, and Manuel knows this well. “We need to be sharper than we were tonight,” he said. “We played back on our heels too much too often. [Manitoba’s] a great team, and there’s no quit in them. They just keep coming at you.”
Stream the action from home and view live stats at canadawest.tv.