WINNIPEG, Man. (ISN) – In the first match of the 2012 Canada West Quarter Final best-of-three playoff series the No. 7 UBC Okanagan Heat failed to take a set off of the No. 2 Manitoba Bisons, falling in straight sets 3-0 (25-21, 27-25, 25-21).
The Heat now face the daunting task of having to take out the Bisons in their home gym twice in a row to advance to the Canada West Final Four.
The second game of the series will be held Friday Feb. 17 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre on the University of Manitoba campus in Winnipeg, game will start at 5 p.m. PST.
The Heat lost all three sets by a total of 10 points coach Poitras explained to his team after the game demonstrating how close the match was. UBC Okanagan was able to come close to taking out the Bisons tonight but made too many services errors against such a well coached team. For the match the Heat had 19 service errors compared to the Bisons seven.
The upstart Heat played like the seventh seed in the first set as their timing was off in their attacks falling 25-21. Outside hitter Riley McFarland (4th year, Surrey, BC) seemed to be the Heat player least affected with nerves as he had 7 of his 20 kills in the first set, and a .500 hitting percentage in the set; .378 for the match.
The second set was the turning point in the match. The Heat were up 14-9 after a big block by middle Mark Broome (5th year, Kelowna, BC) and Nate Speijer (4th year, outside hitter, Penticton, BC), and looked to go into the technical timeout with hopefully a six or seven point lead. A Manitoba time out allwed the Bisons to turn the match around with a pair of kills by outside hitter Dane Pischke (4th year, Winnipeg, MB). In a blink the Heat only led by two (16-14) at the time out. The teams traded points the rest of the set with the Bisons only taking the lead just before set point at 26-25.
With the Heat reeling after letting the second set slip away the Bisons pounced, starting the third set on a 10-3 run and forcing UBC Okanagan coach Greg Poitras to call a time out and refocus his players. After the timeout UBC Okanagan altered their offence mixing in middle Brett Uniat (4th year, Cochrane, AB) and not letting the Bisons focus on McFarland and Speijer. The Heat brought the score to 22-21 before falling 25-21.
Left side Chris Voth (4th year, Winnipeg, MB) was the difference for the Bisons as he led the team with 12 kills, scoring 16 points and hit at a .526 percentage. Top attacker Dane Pischke finished with nine kills and coach Poitras says, “we handled him fairly well again, but it still didn’t make a difference in the end.”
Second to McFarland in kills for the Heat was Nate Speijer, who finished with 11 kills and four blocks. Uniat was lethal when set with eight kills and a .800 hitting percentage. Preston Tucker had a 12.00 assists per set for the match.
Coach Poitras plans to use the same speech he gave his team two weeks ago when they were on the road in Saskatchewan and lost the first game in straight sets making the next night a must win or the season would end. The Heat were able to win that game the next day in Saskatchewan and then the last 2 games at home, winning five of their last six to capture the last spot in playoffs. Now, they must win Friday’s match to tie the series 1-1 and force a third match Saturday, or their successful first CIS season will end.