UBC Okanagan sees six-game tear end as Thompson Rivers goes 3-0 despite another virtuoso performance by Bell. Rematch Saturday at 7 p.m. in Kamloops.
Men's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
|Thompson Rivers (8-11)||28||25||25||3|
|UBC Okanagan (6-13)||26||22||23||0|
KELOWNA, BC – Third-year Heat middle Jim Bell would blaze a trail again to put up a season-high three-set kill mark of 19, but the Canada West Athlete of the Week’s efforts would not be enough as the visiting Thompson Rivers WolfPack slipped out with a 3-0 win in men’s volleyball action in Kelowna Thursday night (28-26, 25-22, 25-23).
Bell was named Player of the Game for his efforts, which were an echo to a 20-kill night a weekend prior versus Calgary that helped garner his Athlete of the Week honours.
A quick read of the stat sheet would not give the impression of a three-set sweep as both teams were nearly identical to each other across all categories, with the Heat losing by a total of only seven points across all three sets.
Down for the first half of the opening set, the Heat dug deep from a 16-13 hole at the technical break to push the WolfPack on the ropes at a 24-21 mark. However, the teams would find themselves in extra points and Thompson Rivers would wind up squeaking past the home squad 28-26 after a pair of hot serves by Stuart Ritchey put the Heat on their heels for a 1-0 lead. Bell recorded eight of his 19 kills in this set alone.
A 12-11 lead would be the last that the Heat would be ahead in the second set as the WolfPack stayed UBC Okanagan 25-22, backed largely by a lift from senior hitter Brad Gunter, who recorded six kills in the frame.
The WolfPack were again the first squad to sixteen, but UBC Okanagan held tight to them into the final breaths of the match. A last push by the Heat would ultimately by foiled by a tight call at the net as Bell skied for a block against Gunter and like lightning the ball hit the floor, ruled ultimately to be on the Heat side by the head official.
Gunter had a team-high 17 kills for the night on 36 attempts, digging up five balls and tallying three block assists. Casey Knight joined him in double-digit kills with 11, while Matt Krueger added 15 digs and Brandon Hewwing put up five blocks assists.
Behind Bell was second-year Lars Bornemann (Victoria, BC) just one shy of ten kills with nine and four block assists. Fourth-year libero Jeremy Fostvelt did the yeoman’s work on reception as he got to a match-high 18 digs.
The loss halted the Heat's six game win streak and now their record sits at 6-13 for the season while Thompson Rivers improves to 8-11.
The six-game streak may be over but Bell thought the ride was already well worth its weight in gold, saying that, “We really found the identity of our team. [We] were playing as a whole. Everyone was contributing wherever they could. And we saw that again tonight. Not everyone was the best at attacking, but the passing was there, the blocking was there … just a couple of plays here and there, small lapses [that make the difference].”
As for their feral foes, Bell is confident that they can prepare and take Saturday’s rematch. “They’re a mentally tough team to beat,” he said of the school’s long-time rivals. “We’ve got a good feeling for them, they have got a good feeling for us. I am looking forward to getting back at them Saturday night.”
The Heat will travel to Kamloops Saturday to conclude the teams’ annual home-and-home series at Tournament Capitol Centre at 7 p.m.
Watch the action online and stream live stats at canadawest.tv