CALGARY, AB – The UBC Okanagan Heat were unable to contain CIS player of the year Graham Vigrass as he put on an impressive display to give his University of Calgary Dinos a 3-1 win (25-21, 25-15, 15-25, 25-22) over the upstart Heat Friday night in the Jack Simpson Gym.
Vigrass posted a season-high 17 kills on the night, adding seven blocks and five digs as the Dinos handed the Heat its sixth consecutive loss, dropping the newest members of Canada West to 3-6 in their inaugural season. Calgary, the defending conference champion, improves to 6-5 with the win.
Vigras the 6’8″ middle blocker and teammate Jay Blankenau both competed for Canada in the summer at the FISU games; Heat coach Greg Poitras points out that:
“Calgary is a good team, they have players on that team that won the national championship two years ago, they’re the reigning Canada West champions, and finished with a national bronze medal last year.”
The Dinos looked impressive in the first two sets, taking the second 25-15, before the Heat turned it up in the third and returned the favour with a 25-15 win of their own. The fourth could have gone either way, but the Dinos emerged on the winning side of the scoreboard.
The second set was about as lopsided as it gets in Calgary’s favour, with the Dinos recording 15 kills and hitting at 48 per cent while UBC Okanagan struggled to a -3.4 per cent efficiency with eight kills and nine errors.
“They [Calgary] very quickly picked up our weakness and their guys executed way better than our guys,” explains Poitras.
The pendulum swung decisively the other way in the third set, with the Dinos managing just five kills along with nine errors while the Heat went 11 and one. On the outside Greg Niemantsverdriet (3rd year, Vernon, BC) and Jon Russo (1st year, Lake Country, BC) each had eight kills on the night, and four apiece came in the third set. Vigrass was the only Dino in positive territory in that frame, pounding two kills against just one error.
But the Dinos were able to come back after the Heat took a 10-7 lead in the fourth set. It went back and forth, with the Heat holding a 20-18 lead as well, but the Dinos ended the night on a 7-2 run capped off by Allen Meek’s 14th kill of the evening.
The fourth set comeback was halted explains Poitras when the team was unable to push their momentum when they had the opportunity, “we’ve been giving up [our] chances, nothing specific but we did have chances in the fourth set, we made a comeback with four straight points [to push the score to]17-16, and then they pushed back. And we were unable to handle that; we haven’t been able to handle dealing with them pushing back at us again.”
Vigrass and Meek were the only Dinos in double digits with kills, together accounting for nearly a third of Calgary’s offensive production. Chris Hoag added six to go with nine big digs, while Andrew Visser added 11.
Fourth year Nate Speijer (Outside hitter, Penticton, BC) was the Heat’s top offensive player, scoring 15 kills to lead all UBC Okanagan players. Russo and Niemantsverdriet added their eight each, while fourth year Riley McFarland (Outside hitter, Surrey, BC) and fifth year Mark Broome (Middle, Kelowna, BC) trailed well back of that total with three kills each.
Poitras sums up his team’s night and mentions that the team did execute some of the game plan adding, “Brett Uniat (4th year, middle, Cochrane, AB) was off tonight and will be better tomorrow for sure. Nate was solid. Our other wing players need to be more aggressive as seen by their kill efficiency (.161 as a team). One of our goals was to get their setter off the net. We did a good job of doing that.”
The Heat will try and end the seven game losing streak and go into the semester break on a winning note when these two team meet again Saturday Dec. 3 at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium on the University of Calgary campus. Watch the game online www.canadawest.tv.
GAME NOTES: The Heat had not won a in almost a month; the last set the team has won was Friday Nov. 4 in their 4 set victory over the T-Birds, a streak of 17 straight sets…Riley McFarland has hit a rough patch this season after accumulating 70 kills in his first 5 matches (season best 25 versus UBC on Nov. 4), he has tallied just 9 total kills in his last 4 games. Freshman Jon Russo is seeing more and more playing time and is starting to produce results for Poitras he produced a 9.5 points second to Speijer’s 15.5 on the night.