WINNIPEG, Man. – The UBC Okanagan Heat’s men’s volleyball team’s season came to an abrupt end Friday as the No. 2 University of Manitoba Bisons blocked any chance the Heat had of playing a third game in the 2012 Canada West Quarter Final best-of-three playoff series with another straight sets (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) victory Friday night at the Investors Group Athletic Centre in Winnipeg, MB.
With the straight set loss tonight, the Heat have finished their first season in the Canada West reaching unchartered heights for a first year program with eight wins in the regular season, and a trip to the postseason. UBC Okanagan bench boss Greg Poitras looks back on how far the team went and is happy for the experience:
“We could have been sitting at home right now wishing we were in the playoffs. Instead, we got to experience Canada West Playoffs and that is a major step going into next year. We got to experience playoffs in our first year, that’s huge. Seeing how teams go from the start of the year and how they get their form the start of the playoffs, and how sharp the top teams are in the playoffs, that is a lesson for our guy. That is invaluable experience that we maybe couldn’t have gotten for three years. We always go back to that 14-11 in Saskatchewan, we had no business winning that.”
The start of the match the Heat came out as the aggressors playing well and putting Manitoba on the defensive yet were never able to use that advantage to carve a lead. 6-5 for the Heat in the first set was the last time UBC Okanagan was ever on top of the score.
The block of Manitoba consistently shut down the Heat, it wasn’t just the number of the blocks as much as the timing. The Bisons were able to use the block as a weapon all night, as Dane Pischke, Joseph Brooks, Carson Kauenhowen and Chris Voth all seemed to come up with a block to snuff out a Heat run. The Bisons finished with 11 blocks on the night, four in the first set, 2.5 in the second and 4.5 in the third.
The dynamic duo of fourth year outside hitters for the Heat once again led the offense as Nate Speijer (Penticton, BC) and Riley McFarland (Surrey, BC) had17 kills and four blocks, and 10 kills and eight digs, respectively.
The Bisons own duo of fourth year outside hitters led their team with 10 kills each. Voth led the team with 8 digs, Pischke led the block party with six, Brooks had five, Voth and Kauehhowen had three.
The second and third sets were carbon copies of the first with Manitoba able to block any Heat rally with strong defensive play at the net. In the end, the Bisons played like the second best team in the nation ending UBC Okanagan’s extremely successful season in the first round of the Canada West post season.
In playing his last volleyball game for the University fifth year setter Preston Tucker after the game was able to take the ending in stride saying “I hadn’t really thought about it, I’m not an emotional guy.”
Coach Greg Poitras is excited about the teams future with the experience his young guys received this weekend.
“I’m super proud of the guys, and super proud of the new players showing their toughness, that was the most impressive thing. First year libero Jeremy Fostvelt (Surrey, BC) is one example, the pressure he has in that position and he is the youngest player in the gym, in the toughest position.”
The Heat will lose at least three players from this year’s squad as setter Preston Tucker and middle Mark Broome and libero Spencer Brown all have used their five years of eligibility.