September 24, 2012, KELOWNA, B.C. – On Friday in the first of two exhibition games against the Argentinean U23 squad, the Heat came out strong but eventually fell to Fe Voleibol Argentino 3 sets to 1 (21-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-18).
An electric crowd sparked the Heat early, who looked impressive in their second exhibition game so far this season. All Heat players saw significant minutes, while Argentina played the majority of their starters in preparation for the Pan American Cup in Langley, B.C, which runs from September 25th to the 30th. Despite the result, Heat head coach Greg Poitras was happy with his team’s performance.
“We adjusted well to their style of play, which is different from the type of play we’re used to [in the CIS],” remarked Poitras. “I just think we need to execute a little better.”
Considering the hype surrounding the Argentineans, who are not only the favourites to win the Pan Am Cup, but look to do it with a U21 squad, the Heat made an impressive showing, fighting for every point. Also impressive was the play of many first-year Heat players.
Added Poitras, “We expect our new guys to be ready, and be impact players for our team. That’s why they are here.”
In Saturday’s rematch the Heat struggled early on with a number of defensive errors, particularly on the serve, losing the first set 25-21. At the start of the second set momentum began to change briefly when Heat middle Brett Uniat (4th year, Cochrane, AB) generated some offense, but the ever-tactical Argentines kept up point-by-point, notching one of their own each time the Heat scored one. More unforced errors made the difference as Argentina took a tight second set 26-24. In the third the Heat again got off to an excellent offensive start early on, but a combination of resilience by the Argentines and errors by the Heat brought Fe Voleibol Argentino on top 25-20 for the straight set victory (25-21, 26-24, 25-20).
Heat outside hitter Riley McFarland (5th year, Surrey, BC) led the Heat with 11 kills and 3 digs on Saturday, while 5th year Nate Speijer (Outside hitter, Penticton, BC) tallied 9 kills of his own. Libero Jeremy Kler (5th year, Vernon, BC) put up 5 digs for the Heat Saturday night.
The Heat will take to the road to play the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in exhibition play on Wednesday. The game will get underway at 7 p.m. in Kamloops.