KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat toppled the University of Regina Cougars in a nail-biting match, eventually triumphing in the tie-breaking fifth set, 3-2 (18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 15-6).
“There are some guys that I haven’t seen play this well in a while, so you can tell the confidence is there,” commented Heat head coach Greg Poitras. “Riley was consistent again attacking-wise and Preston delivered the ball well. I guess the biggest thing is this losing streak we’ve had is broken and that’s going to really push our team’s confidence in the next matches we play.”
The Heat once again were led by fourth year outside hitter Nate Speijer (Penticton, BC), who led the game in 24 jaw-dropping kills and a .340 attack rate. Close behind him was fellow outside hitter Riley McFarland (4th year, Surrey, BC), who smacked 20 kills and grabbed seven digs. Team captain and setter Preston Tucker (5th year, Vernon, BC) shot up 51 assists and grabbed a team high total of 13 digs.
“He’s an offensive threat,” said Poitras of outside hitter Nate Speijer. “The player that we had start for Nate last weekend, Jon Russo, was sick, so we needed Nate to step up and he was a huge piece in the win tonight for sure.”
The Cougars’ outside hitter Brody Waddell (5th year, Regina, SK) led his team with 14 kills while also tying the game high with 15 digs and a 36.7 attack percentage. Teammate and libero Jacques Borgeaud (1st year, Brisbane, Australia) tied the game high with 15 digs. Right side Andrew Nelson (1st year, Regina, SK) also added 13 kills to the scoreboard.
“We looked at their hitters over a bunch of matches, so we were trying to pick up where they were swinging the ball,” continued Poitras. “We wanted to establish our block early and really slow down their right side guy. We got a bunch of blocks on him and got in his head a little bit.”
UBC Okanagan improves to 4-11 in conference play and end their 11-game losing streak, while the Cougars move down to an equal 4-11. The Heat are trying to catch up to the University of Winnipeg Wesmen, who currently hold the 7th and final playoff spot in Canada West. They will need to continue their winning ways in order to secure a playoff berth.
The two teams meet again tomorrow night at UBC Okanagan’s campus at 8 p.m. The game can be seen live at www.canadawest.tv.