Heat fighting for playoffs as they look to fend off Cougars

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ubc heat

Cary Mellon

KELOWNA, B.C. – The top seven teams make the playoffs in Canada West volleyball. Currently the men’s volleyball team sits in ninth place, just three games out of the final playoff berth.

The Regina Cougars are 4-10, just one game and spot ahead of the Heat (3-11) in the standings. With two wins over Regina this weekend, the Heat would leapfrog the Cougars in the standings and keep their playoff dream very much alive. Both of these huge games are set to go Friday and Saturday night at 8 p.m., and will be played on UBC’s Okanagan campus.

GAME TIMES

Friday, January 27 – The University of Regina Cougars at the UBC Okanagan Heat (8 p.m. PST, UBC’s Okanagan campus, Kelowna, BC)

Saturday, January 28 – The University of Regina Cougars at the UBC Okanagan Heat (8 p.m. PST, UBC’s Okanagan campus, Kelowna, BC)

Both games will be streamed with live video: www.canadawest.tv

HEAT (3-11)

CIS National Ranking: N/A

CanWest Standings: 110th

Last Week: 0-2; Fri 3-0 loss to Alberta, Sat 3-1 loss to Alberta

Streak: 11 losses

2010 CanWest Record: N/A

2010 CanWest Championship: N/A

2010 CIS Tournament: N/A

Last CanWest Title: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

Full Schedule / Roster

Last Weekend: The Heat pushed the No. 3 Alberta Golden Bears to the limit last weekend but dropped both. In an extremely entertaining Friday night match the Heat fell in three sets, with every one going to deuce. The third set was a marathon decided at 38-36, the score in the three set match was: (27-25, 26-24, 38-36).

Home sweet home: The Heat have amassed all three of their wins at home and sit at .500 in Kelowna with a 3-3 record.

“We’re 3-3 at home,” says Heat coach Greg Poitras. “It’s not the best record in the world, but we beat UBC and we beat Winnipeg … recently we lost to Alberta – we’re not used to losing on our home court. We’re a team that plays well on our home court.”

Impact of the home crowd: “I think it’s a big impact. We seem to have a little more spark when we play in front of our fans,” continues Poitras. “We’ve played our best volleyball on our home court, and that’s a good thing. We don’t want teams coming in here relaxed and thinking they’re going to be beat us on our home floor.”

“It’s always nice to play at home,” claims an exuberant fifth year Mark Broome. “I think we have a huge home court advantage.”

Playoff perspective: The Heat still have a chance; with six games left, four at home, and all six against unranked opponents, the Heat need to make their move starting this weekend. The Heat still sit just three games out of the final playoff spot with two games in hand. Winnipeg, the team currently in seventh, has only four games left – and they face No.5 UBC, and No. 2 Manitoba.

Remaining Schedule: The Heat host the 4-10 Cougars this weekend, travel to Saskatchewan to play the 1-13 Huskies next weekend, and finish their conference schedule hosting the 3-13 Thompson Rivers WolfPack.

Coach’s goals for the remainder of season: “Maintaining a high enough level for a period of time, and I think that would produce some wins for us,” adds Poitras. “From a win-loss standpoint we want to be 6-0 … put us more in control of our fate as far as making playoffs.”

Riley Home Warrior: Riley this past weekend in the seven sets against the nation’s third ranked team amassed 34 kills, hitting at a 24.1 percent. At home he is now 4.27 kills per set with a 23.8 hitting percentage.

This weekend’s opponent:

REGINA COUGARS (4-10)

CIS National Ranking: N/A

CanWest Standings: 8th

Previous Week: 0-2; Fri 3-1 loss to MAN, Sat 3-0 loss to MAN

Streak: 5 losses

2011 CanWest Record: 2-16 (10th, missed playoffs)

2011 CanWest Championship: N/A

Last CanWest Title: N/A

Last CIS Title: N/A

Full Schedule / Roster

Regina’s record: The Cougars are 4-10, losers of their last five and winless on the road. The Cougars this year have split with the Saskatchewan Huskies, swept Thompson Rivers and took out Brandon for their fourth win. Regina has not won in 2012 and dropped both games last weekend to Manitoba.

Head-to-head: The Heat played the Cougars in Regina in the preseason with the Cougars winning in three (25-15, 25-1110, 25-10).

Coach’s Goals against Regina: “Keep a high level over a long period of time,” preaches Poitras. “We have a lot of respect for this team. They’ve had a few rough years of conference play, and they’re a good team this year and we respect them. If we ever have the opportunity to be three or four points ahead of them, we want to hold onto that. Just maintaining that level for long enough to win a set.”

Kill leader: The Cougars are led in kills by 6-6 freshman Andrew Nelson, whose 3.58 kills per set is seventh in Canada West. Nelson has a 20.8 hitting percentage. With very similar numbers on the Cougars is fifth year Jamie Wilkins. This 6-4 outside hitter is at 3.27 kills per set with a 1110.7 percentage. Their offense is led by setter Caleb Eschbach, who is eighth in Canada West with 110.47 assists per game.

Preseason info from Canada West:

REGINA COUGARS

Key additions: L Jacques Borgeaud, OH Andre Borgeaud, MB Marco Vargas

Key returnees: MB Joel Colter, OH Jamie Wilkins

Key departures: RS Leon Dyck, L Lindsey Isaak

REGINA – Regina will sport a new look this year as head coach Greg Barthel has several new recruits that he expects will make an immediate impact for the Cougars.

Leading the group of returners is fifth-year middle blocker and team co-captain Joel Colter, who set school single-season records in both total blocks and blocks per set last year after transferring from Lethbridge College. Also back for a fifth and final season is outside hitter Jamie Wilkins, who finished ninth in Canada West with an average of 3.16 kills per set last year.

In the middle is fifth-year Drew Smith. The team’s crop of fifth-year players is rounded out by Brody Waddell, who switches to right side this season after playing his first four years at the U of R at left side.

Caleb Eschbach and Matt Hender have split the setting duties through the non-conference schedule and that is expected to continue through when Canada West matches start this week.

As for the newcomers, libero Jacques Borgeaud has extensive experience with the Australian National Junior team and should fill the absence left by the graduation of Lindsey Isaak quite nicely. Jacques’ older brother Andre has shown the ability to hit multiple shots and play solid defence and will start alongside Wilkins at left side. Middle blocker Marco Vargas will also see significant playing time after transferring from Mount Royal University, while Barthel has described first-year right side Andrew Nelson (Campbell Collegiate) as a quickly developing player who has been dynamic at the net.

http://www.reginacougars.com/

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