No. 4 UBC Okanagan downs the visiting defending champion Manitoba Bisons in straight sets to win the weekend in Kelowna.
Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
UBC Okanagan Gymnasium, Kelowna, B.C.
|UBC Okanagan (4-2)||25||25||25||3|
KELOWNA, B.C. – It was textbook work put in by the No. 4 UBC Okanagan Heat at home Saturday night when they swept the match and weekend versus the Manitoba Bisons in straight sets (25-17, 25-15, 25-15).
The home team put their foot on the gas right from the get go and Manitoba had a hard time staying on balance for the entirety of the match. Excellent offensive pressure by the Heat created non-ideal scoring opportunities for the Bisons, which in turn made the Heat defense able to put in work to shut down most things offensively for their opponents.
With matters fairly close in the first set, a 16-14 edge for the Heat heading into timeout was hardly a decisive one. However, a 9-3 run to close out the first set started the engine of the Heat freight train for the remainder of the match.
“I think tonight we controlled the first contact extremely well,” said Heat coach Steve Manuel postgame. “We served very well and tough tonight, and put them off balance a lot.”
It was also service reception that was on point for the Heat, as Manuel continued by saying that “We controlled the first ball coming over very well. So on serve receive, scramble plays … we were able to run our offense because of that. Chandler [Proch] did an awesome job running the offense out there because the players gave her the ball to work with.”
Heat coach Steve Manuel opted to start fourth-year Proch (Kelowna, BC) at setter over the previous night’s starter in sophomore Emily Oxland (N. Vancouver, BC), a move that would not disappoint as Proch went for 23 assists, three kills and seven digs.
“We have two great setters, and it’s a very long season, and both of them bring very different qualities to the floor,” commented Manuel on his talent depth at that position. “So we’re going to make sure that we exploit both of their qualities to the max. We’ll just keep juggling that based on how we feel the matchups are, and what we want to get out of our team tonight.”
Though Manitoba would cool the intensely hot Heat offense in the first frame (16 kills on a team .406) back down to earth in the second and third set (roughly in half), the Bisons just could not crack the impenetrable wall of the Heat defense. UBC Okanagan recorded 18 block assists while the back row denied virtually everything else en route to a team 43 digs.
Not one to back down from the situation, Bisons captain and the league’s leader in kills in Rachel Cockrell still tried to put her team on her shoulders, pushing herself to the top shelf with a semi-efficient game-high of 13 kills on the night.
By the final whistle, Manitoba had a conversion rate of .044 for the night, while three Heat players posted over .500 numbers in that category.
Once again fourth year outside hitter Brianna Beamish (Surrey, BC) led all Heat attackers with 10 kills for the night.
Manitoba’s Jordana Milne (Winnipeg, MB) would follow behind Cockrell with seven kills, while the team’s other co-captain in Brittany Habing (East St. Paul, MB) would wrap up with 22 assists and seven digs.
The Heat stay above water with a 4-2 record after three weekends into their fourth Canada West season. The Bisons meanwhile drop to 2-4.
Both teams are on the road next weekend in the Lower Mainland. UBC Okanagan will head to the UBC Thunderbirds for a back-to-back at War Memorial, Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m. Manitoba will visit the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 5 p.m.
Stream the action from home and view live stats at canadawest.tv.
Heat notes: Prior to the match commencing, fourth-year Katy Klomps was honoured for her receiving the prestigious Ray Lepp Scholarship, an annual award by Volleyball BC recognizing a volleyball student athlete of the highest caliber on and off the court. “It’s definitely an honour,” she said following the match versus Manitoba. “There’s a lot of great players in the province. To be recognized at that level for so many different things, it’s really positive for me.”