UBC Okanagan escapes yet another fifth-set scenario—their eighth this season—against the visiting Brandon Bobcats in 3-2 victory (25-19, 24-26, 25-8, 22-25, 15-9).
Women's Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
|(3) UBC Okanagan
|UBC Okanagan (18-5)||25||24||25||22||15||3|
KELOWNA, BC – Two top-six CIS women’s volleyball squads squared off in Kelowna for the final Friday this season, and the host UBC Okanagan Heat ultimately proved the better of the two rivals with the visiting Brandon Bobcats in a five-set thriller (25-19, 24-26, 25-8, 22-25, 15-9).
The win propels UBC Okanagan to an 18-5 record, keeping their hopes of hosting the Final Four alive. Now, however, that fate will rest in the hands of both Trinity Western and Alberta, who were in a three-way tie with the Heat entering the weekend but whom both owned the tiebreaker (sets won/lost) over them.
Brandon falls to 13-10 with defending national champion Manitoba breathing down their neck for the fifth seed.
The No. 6 Bobcats came to town with a mission for revenge, having lost to the very same Heat team that upset them a year prior in the Canada West quarterfinals. It may not have been the playoffs this night, but both teams certainly brought their A-games to the table against all-too familiar foes.
Out of the gate the Bobcats managed to stick to their gameplan for the weekend solidly: keep the ball out of the middle and limit the touches to fourth-year star middle-blocker Katy Klomps (Surrey, BC). The chess match had only just begun, however, as the Heat adjusted with several weapons at the wing, notably with fourth-year outside Brianna Beamish (Surrey, BC) leading the way.
“Conveniently, all week we were working on shots from the outside, not just ripping it as hard as we can [in the middle,” said second-year Heat outside Michelle Jakszuk on the tactical adjustments made by her team for this particular matchup. “It was more strategic, and we weren’t just thrown in to do it. We kind of had an idea of what to do, and it came naturally as the match went on.”
The second set saw both teams exchange comfortable leads and traded opportunities to close out the frame until Brandon finally found a way to cool off the Heat attack from either side and take it in extra points 26-24.
Unfazed at having just been dealt a blow to their Final Four host chances in another L tally for sets, the Heat rallied for a remarkable third-set stretch that saw them set a season-high point differential mark in a coasting 25-8 result.
New Zealand product Vaovai Aiono and fifth-year teammate Meaghan Robertson of the Bobcats took over in the fourth, quickly forgetting that third-set drubbing to force an ominous fifth for the Heat, who were 4-3 in fifth frames so far.
Excellent pressure from the service line saw the Heat manage to work their way to eight points first. A series of plays on both sides of the net from second-year Michelle Jakszuk (Gibsons, BC) would help get them to ten first, and then power to a commanding 13-7 lead that the team would eventually close out.
Beamish led all attackers in kills with 16, adding ten digs. Third-year Kaitlyn Given (Kelowna, BC) posted 13 kills on a hyper-efficient .448, also chipping in seven digs. The latter’s complete effort on both sides of the net garnered her Player of the Game honours.
Klomps would manage seven kills and five block assists in a quieter night. Jakszuk had five kills and four block assists in limited but impactful time on the court.
Aiono led the charge for the Bobcats with 11 kills while ripping in two service aces and catching seven digs. Robertson and three others in captain Victoria Dakin and Shanlee McLennan all added nine kills to the effort.
Donata Huebert led all backliners with 22 digs while also assisting six points.
Both teams will complete their regular seasons Saturday night at 5 p.m. at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium. A seniors night ceremony will be held following the match to honour graduating Heat outside hitter Myrte Schön.
Watch the action online at stream live stats at canadawest.tv.
HEAT NOTES: Currently there is a three way tie for the top spot in Canada West with UBC Oknagan, Trinity Western and Alberta all boasting 18-5 records. The tie-break procedure for Canada West after wins is: sets won overall/sets lost overall. Currently the breakdown would be in order: Alberta (62/20 = 3.1), Trinity Western (60/27 = 2.22), UBC Okanagan (62/31 = 2.00). It is now impossible for the Heat to catch either Alberta or Trinity for the tiebreaker, and the last chance they have is to win Saturday versus Brandon and have both of Alberta and Trinity fall in their respective final matches.