WINNIPEG, MB – It was the first Canada West men’s volleyball matchup ever between Manitoba and UBC Okanagan on Friday night. Unfortunately for UBC Okanagan it was over very quickly. The tenth-ranked Heat (3-2) had no answer for the nation’s third-ranked Bisons (5-0) with a three set loss (25-23, 25-20, 25-17) at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
Leading the way for Manitoba was fourth year co-captain Chris Voth (Left side, Winnipeg, MB), who led all players with 13 kills. Another Left side, Evan Jackson (2nd year, Winnipeg, MB) chipped in with eight kills and fourth year Derek Nieroda (Libero, Headingley, MB) led with nine digs.
UBC Okanagan coach Greg Poitras acknowledges the good job done by Jackson “we hadn’t prepped on him and he played well. We controlled one of their best hitters in fourth-year Dane Pischke (Outside hitter, Winnipeg, MB), but we allowed Voth and Jackson to score a lot.”
For the Heat, fourth-year Nate Speijer (Outside hitter, Penticton, BC) led with 12 kills. Libero Jeremy Fostvelt (1st year, Surrey, BC) had five digs for UBC Okanagan.
“Our best performance tonight was probably Jeremy,” says Poitras, “after he sprained his ankle at the serve and pass today, we weren’t sure if he could play. It wasn’t until [well into Manitoba’s] hitting warm-up when I popped the question, did we know he would be able to go…he executed better than anybody on our team, he dug some huge balls and he passed well above average, for a first year player, that is pretty outstanding.”
“This was a great win and I’m very proud of how we battled today,” said Bisons head coach Garth Pischke. “We faced a very athletic team and we had some nice shots.”
“They put us in trouble a little bit, but we had great numbers from our two left-side hitters in Chris Voth and Evan Jackson.”
The first set for both teams was a flurry of action. Early it was dominated by the reach and height of 6’4″ fourth-year Riley McFarland (Outside hitter, Surrey, BC) of the Heat. His five dominating set kills kept his team close throughout. It was a team effort for the Bisons, though, led by consistency from fourth-year Dane Pischke (Outside hitter, Winnipeg, MB), that got them the 25-23 set win.
The second and third sets were a carbon copy of the first – the Bisons were able to stay ahead purely based on consistency. Whenever the Heat made a run, Manitoba was there with a block or a perfectly set kill.
The Heat were never really in the lead and Poitras adds that it is a “tough to beat a good team when they are playing with confidence. If we had a bit of a lead on them…scared them a bit maybe they would have made mistakes, but they were sharp all the way around the floor.”
“I didn’t think we passed the ball to bad,” points out Poitras on tonight’s lack of offence. “We couldn’t execute or score on good passes…that’s obviously a major problem that we have to solve between now and tomorrow”
The UBC Okanagan men’s volleyball team will play the second of a back-to-back against the Manitoba Bisons on Saturday night. Game time is 6 p.m. PST at Investors Group Athletic Centre, and can be seen live on www.canadawest.tv.