The Heat fall in four sets to the visiting UBC Thunderbirds in Kelowna on Friday night in spite of a carer night for Alex Swiatlowski. The UBC Okanagan men’s volleyball team get another shot at UBC tomorrow night (Sat. Jan. 30) with first serve at 7 p.m.
Men’s Volleyball (Canada West conference match)
Friday, January 29th, 2016
UBC Okanagan gymnasium, Kelowna, BC
SET SCORES 1 2 3 4 TEAM RECORDS UBC................. (3) 27 22 25 25 11-6 UBC Okanagan........ (1) 25 25 17 22 3-14
KELOWNA, BC – A career high of 23 kills by the Heat’s fourth year outside hitter, Alex Swiatlowski, wasn’t enough to clip the wings of the visiting UBC Thunderbirds. The UBC squad from the Point Grey campus defeated the Heat men’s volleyball team from the Okanagan campus at the UBC Okanagan gym on Friday night, three sets to one.
The Thunderbirds took the opening set (27-25), the Heat rallied to take the second set (25-23), and then the Thunderbirds took sets three (25-17) and four (25-22) to close out the win, their first on the road since November 21, 2015. It is UBC Okanagan’s sixth straight loss in conference competition, and they have yet to win a match in 2016.
Alex Swiatlowski led all players with 23 kills (.362) in the match, a career record for the six-foot-eight Victoria, B.C. native. His previous record was 20, that came just over two years ago, also against UBC in the UBC Okanagan gym, on January 11, 2014. Irvan Brar tallied the most kills for UBC, leading his team with 17 (.500).
Byron Keturakis led the Thunderbirds in assists with 29, and Kristof Schlagintweit led the Heat with 44. Digs leaders were Jacob Smith for UBC with ten, and Eli Risso for UBC Okanagan with 12.
The first set of the match saw strong play from both teams, with UBC taking the most evenly-played frame of the contest by a score of 27-25. Both teams scored 13 kills in the set, with the Thunderbirds scoring the slightly higher attack percentage of .321 to the Heat’s .296. Swiatlowski finished the first set with five kills.
The second set was just as closely contested as the first, but UBC Okanagan came back strong to take the frame, 25-23. The Heat led the second frame in kills, 14-12, but had the lesser attack percentage, .241, compared to the Thunderbirds’ .348. Swiatolwski dropped seven kills in the second set, he also recorded his only block and three of his match-high four service aces in the only set the home team took on the night.
Heat head coach Greg Poitras said of his team’s effort to come back in the second set, “We actually took charge of that second set, we played great ball right through that set, so that was good.” He added, “the first set was close, we had a 24-20 lead . . . and we threw that away. Really tough for a team to come back after something like that, in the second set, and rebound, and win that set.”
UBC took the third set 25-17, scoring the final point on an emphatic kill by Irvan Brar. The only controversial moment of the match came when the Thunderbirds earned set point in the third frame, on a play at the net that UBC Okanagan players, coaches, and fans evidently thought should have gone their way. UBC scored 17 kills in the set, with an attack percentage of .516, well above their season average of .248; UBC Okanagan scored 13 kills, for a .333 percentage.
The fourth and final set of the match saw UBC maintain their offensive power, putting away 15 kills and earning a .364 attack percentage, while holding UBC Okanagan to a .219 percentage, for 14 kills. Alex Swiatlowski had eight of those 14 in the fourth set to give him a new personal best. The Heat rallied late in the set, scoring four in a row to pull within one (19-18 in favour of UBC) at one point, then breaking three straight set points to make it 24-22 for the Thunderbirds, but a kill by UBC Setter Byron Keturakis put an end to the comeback, and the match.
Coach Poitras said of his team’s matchup against UBC this weekend, “I think we had the right formula to beat that team, but we just didn’t execute quite as well as we’d like to. . . . They have great hitters, they use the block well, so we’re going to have to slow the ball down a little bit better. Our middle offence wasn’t great, one of our outside hitters was below average, so we had a few gaps to fill sort of offensively.”
UBC won the statistical matchup as well, earning more kills (57-54), a greater attack percentage (.391 – . 271), more assists (51-50), digs (38-36) total blocks (9-7), and block assists (14-6); UBC Okanagan led one positive statistical category, in service aces (8-5).
After snapping their two-game losing streak, the Thunderbirds now hold a record of 11-6, and the Heat now sit at 3-14 on the season. The two teams will face off again tomorrow night at 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gym.
~ Grayson B. Leahy // Heat communications