The Alberta Golden Bears were pushed to the brink in set one and tested in sets two and three, but they still best the Heat on Saturday night in Kelowna.
Men's Volleyball (Canada West conference match)
Saturday, January 16th, 2016
UBC Okanagan gymnasium, Kelowna, BC
SET SCORES 1 2 3 TEAM RECORDS Alberta (3) 27 25 25 16-0 UBC Okanagan (0) 25 18 17 3-13
KELOWNA, BC – The University of Alberta Golden Bears dispatched the UBC Okanagan Heat in three straight sets on Saturday night at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium in a Canada West men's volleyball regular season match, and with the win U of A is one of two teams yet to be beaten this season in the CIS, the other being McMaster from the OUA. The Golden Bears now hold a record of 16-0, and the Heat drop to 3-13 on the season.
The University of Alberta took the first set by a score of 27-25. In almost the same fashion as Friday night, UBC Okanagan hit the Golden Bears hard in the opening frame, pushing them past the standard 25 points to win, and nearly taking what would have been only the sixth set lost by the University of Alberta all season. Of the three sets played, the first was the most competitive, with UBC Okanagan out-hitting the University of Alberta, scoring 15 kills to the Golden Bears’ 13. The Heat held the Golden Bears to a .206 hitting percentage, well below their season average of .342, but the undefeated visitors’ attack put them over the top in the opening frame.
The University of Alberta had a better hitting night all-around, finishing with 38 kills, ten errors, and a .378 hitting percentage. By comparison, UBC Okanagan finished with 34 kills, 19 errors, and a .183 percentage.
“We were up against a monster, really, to play against an undefeated team, they’re the top program, defending champions two years in a row,” said Heat head coach Greg Poitras of his team’s tough weekend against the University of Alberta. “I think over the course of the weekend we got better, we were more consistent, some of our wing hitters, their numbers were quite a bit better than last night, so we’re happy about a couple changes and improvements we made there.”
Offensively, Ryan Nickifor led the way for the Golden Bears, scoring 11 kills (.450), followed by Alex McMullin with nine (.471) and Ryley Barnes with eight (.143).For the Heat, Alex Swiatlowski and Lars Bornemann were at the top of the stat column for kills, scoring 12 (.292) and 10 kills (.304) respectively.
On the Heat’s hitting performance, coach Poitras added, “Last night they got a bunch of blocks on us, and that was really because we were hitting into the meat of their blocks, so tonight we hit more edge. We adjusted well to that.” The eleventh-season head coach continued, “It’s just a matter of being in system more, so if we’re not passing that well then our hitters are gonna be up against a big block, and so we need to pass better, we need to receive the ball better, and that’ll give us better looks at one-on-one blocks instead of one-on-two or three blocks.”
Nickifor and Bornemann also each led their teams in service aces, with three and two respectively.
Brett Walsh led the University of Alberta with 32 assists, while Kristof Schlagintweit, starting in place of Ethan Freund who started on Friday night, led UBC Okanagan with 25 assists.
On the defensive side, the Golden Bears totalled five blocks, and the Head finished with two. The University of Alberta also finished with 26 digs while UBC Okanagan had 23.
The Golden Bears won the second set 25-18. They brought their hitting percentage way up to .611, in the frame, scoring 12 kills and only making one error, while the Heat scored 11 kills but made six errors on 19 total attacks.
The University of Alberta won the third set by the largest margin of the match, putting UBC Okanagan away with a score of 25-17. The UBC Okanagan hitters had a tough third frame, with the Heat hitting .130 in the final set, while the Golden Bears hit .455 and sealed the win.
This is the last time that the two teams will face off this season. The University of Alberta Golden Bears go on to face the UBC Thunderbirds next weekend, and the UBC Okanagan Heat have a bye week next weekend before facing the same UBC Thunderbirds on January 29 and 30.
~ Grayson B. Leahy // Heat communications