Third-year middle Joshua Harvey has strong night for struggling Heat, but visiting Saskatchewan keeps home team Heat winless in Friday sweep (25-20, 25-17, 25-17).
Men's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
|UBC Okanagan (0-11)||20||17||17||0|
KELOWNA, B.C. – Out to snatch win number one against the visiting Saskatchewan Huskies Friday night, the host UBC Okanagan Heat were ultimately unable to take a set off their prairie foes in a straight set victory for the dogs (25-20, 25-17, 25-17).
Despite remaining winless on the season, Heat coach Greg Poitras pointed to trends in improvement that sees his team still on the right path upward.
“We worked on our [service reception] this week, and certainly saw some improvement there, so that was one important thing going into the game,” he said following the match. “We didn’t miss a lot of serves, but we didn’t serve very tough. We tried to pick on one of [Saskatchewan’s] younger guys, [but] they passed well.”
A strong showing of Saskatchewan defense at the net was the largest factor in keeping the Heat off the scoreboard enough for the Huskies to secure sizable cushions in the latter two sets. The prairie team recorded 11.0 blocks as a team and kept the Heat to under .100 hitting percentage in the last two frames.
“We didn’t put a ton of pressure on them from the line, and they had one-on-one blocks all the time, so they’re going to win that way,” said Poitras, summing his two keys to the Husky victory.
Fifth-year Saskatchewan left-side Paul Thomson was at the head of all scorers on the night, going for a match-high 14 kills (.423) and 18.5 points. Thomson would serve out the final two rallies that would ice the Huskies fourth victory on the season.
For the opening set the Heat and Huskies played a close back-and-forth battle to a narrow 16-14 Saskatchewan lead into the technical break. However, a 5-2 run largely due to Heat errors would give the visitors a cushion to outlast the home team 25-20 in the opening frame.
Second-year outside Lars Bornemann (Victoria, BC) opened up the second set well, serving the first three plays and recording one service ace. The Huskies quickly recovered and doubled-up on the Heat early 6-3, and rushed out to a 16-10 lead into the mid-set break. Saskatchewan would not look back from there despite Harvey’s best efforts on the kill in the middle to try and propel his team back into the mix. The visitors ended up leading by as many as ten points before taking a 25-17 set decision.
Once again the Heat began with a tight point-for-point struggle with the Huskies to start the third set. Okanagan would stumble a little into the technical break down 16-13, and Heat coach Greg Poitras would call his own timeout after back-to-back Saskatchewan points immediately following.
Next, Bornemann would get a big kill right side off of Husky fingertips to slow the bleeding, but Saskatchewan would use a 7-3 run to close out the set and the night 25-17.
Second-year Heat middle Joshua Harvey was the most efficient scorer on the floor for the match as he recorded a team-high ten kills on a .529 rate, adding four digs and one solo block to the stat sheet.
“He’s been steady week after week,” Poitras said of his sophomore. “He’s very focused … he’s hungry all the time. We felt there was a weakness in the middle on their team, and we went after it finally in the second set there. I expect that [Saskatchewan] is going to pay more attention to him tomorrow, and we’ll see what [Josh] does.”
Regular carrier of the Heat offensive load Jim Bell was kept to five kills with two digs and one solo block, while Bornemann was the team’s second best offensive weapon with seven kills to go alongside his one service ace.
The Heat are now 0-11 while Saskatchewan edges closer to .500 with a 4-5 record. Both teams will get a rematch tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
Watch the action online and stream live stats at canadawest.tv.