January 19, 2013, Kelowna, BC (ISN) – A slow start for the Heat, coupled with strong play from the University of Calgary, allowed the visiting Dinos to jump out to an early two sets to none lead Friday night at UBC Okanagan Gymnasium in Kelowna, BC.
However, a few important coaching changes by Heat head coach Steve Manuel proved extremely effective for the UBC Okanagan, as they would go on to win the final three sets in dramatic fashion to squeak out a victory 3-2 (20-25, 13-15, 25-15, 27-25, 18-16).
“We started really slow,” said the Heat bench boss. “Our first seven contacts in the match resulted in six points for Calgary, and we dug ourselves into a hole right off the bat not only in terms of points, but confidence as well.”
With Calgary’s strong start they took the first two sets 25-20 and 25-13 over their host, and forced a different look from the home Heat.
After inserting Brianna Beamish (2nd year, Surrey, BC) into the lineup at 1-3 in the second set, the sophomore would take over. Rattling off four straight serves at 1-4 to put the Heat ahead 6-4 proved to only be the beginning, as she would rattle off another four straight serves in the third set to extend the Heat’s third set lead to 10-5. She would close the set out with six straight serves as the Heat won the third set in convincing fashion (25-15). She would finish the game with 14 kills and 13 digs for what was arguably the best game of her young career.
“Brianna has such a lively right arm,” said Manuel. “She has the ability to dominate a match instantly, and she really pulled us through those middle sets.”
Brianna wasn’t the only player to come off the bench and make an impact for the Heat. In extended playing time, Jill Festival (4th year, Calgary, AB) provided 10 kills on 23 attempts for a strong .348 kill percentage. She would add 11 digs to the Heat’s 92 total on the night.
“We had some players that came off the bench and did an absolutely amazing job,” said Manuel. “They sparked the team. And I hate using this old cliché, but it was a total team effort tonight.”
When asked about whether he believed his team could pull off the victory after winning the third set, Manuel was quick to say:
“Absolutely. No question. No matter how things went tonight, I always thought we could win that match.”
The fourth and fifth sets were won by the slimmest of margins. No team could mount a lead larger than three points, as the fourth set went to 27-25 for UBC Okanagan, as well as the fifth set 18-16 for the match victory 3-2.
The win, the third in the row for the Heat, puts the Heat’s win column into the double digits as their record improves to 10-5. Meanwhile, Calgary falls below .500, slipping to 7-8.
Watch online at www.canadawest.tv.