SASKATOON, SASK – The UBC Okanagan Heat’s playoff odds just got a lot longer as the Heat fell to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies who extended their win streak to three matches with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-23) victory over the visiting Heat Friday night at the PAC in Saskatoon.
With the win the Huskies improve to 4-13 on the season and keep playoff hopes alive. One loss by the Huskies or a win by the Winnipeg Wesmen on Saturday would remove Saskatchewan from the postseason race. The Heat fall to 5-12 and with tonight’s loss the Heat will need to win their last three games and have the 7-12 Winnipeg Wesmen lose to the 15-2 Manitoba Bisons on Saturday night to make the playoffs.
Fourth year Riley McFarland (Outside hitter, Surrey, BC) led the Heat with 10 kills and five digs. Fellow outside hitter Greg Niemantsverdriet (3rd year, Vernon, BC) followed with six kills and five digs. Setter Preston Tucker (5th year, Vernon, BC) recorded 24 assists.
Greg Poitras tries to explain the lack of scoring in the three set loss tonight: “Our offense was stagnant due to a lot of pressure from the Huskie servers,” puts in Poitras. “They ran a balanced offense on us so it seemed like we were constantly scrambling. Our wing players were not efficient. Jonnie [Jon Russo, 1st year, Lake Country, BC] really sparked us coming off the bench. He helped us get into some rhythm and actually start playing with the Huskies point for point. The pressure was on Saskatchewan to win tonight. It’s our turn to deal with pressure tomorrow.”
Fifth-year middle blocker Geoffrey Zerr led the offence for the Huskies tallying 11 kills in the victory. He also added three assisted blocks and four digs. Outside hitter Matthew Busse added nine digs, two service aces, three solo blocks and two assisted blocks for the Huskies. Paul Thomson also chipped in on offence with eight kills.
Middle blockers Braden McLean and Zerr led the Huskies to a 7-4 lead in the first set with five kills. UBC Okanagan pulled back in the game and kept it tight until the 14th point. The Huskies went ahead 15-14 on a Zerr attack that the Heat couldn’t dig up. Saskatchewan took control of the set and outscored the Heat 10-2 for the 25-16 win.
A five-point Thomson service run pulled the Huskies in front 7-1 in the second set. UBC Okanagan could never get back in the set after the early deficit. Saskatchewan continued to roll to the 25-13 win.
UBC Okanagan kept the third set close until the Huskies began to break away on a Busse five-point service run at 8-3. The Heat found their offence and tied the game at 10. The Heat kept the game close allowing Saskatchewan to go ahead by no more than two points. McLean ended the set 25-23 with an attack straight down the middle.
The two teams will meet again Saturday night at the PAC. Match time is 8 p.m. It can be watched on www.canadawest.tv.
HEAT NOTES: Nate Speijer, who is Top 10 in the CIS for kills this season, was held to just 2 kills on the night. This is only the third time that he has scored in the single digits in kills this season.