February 16, 2013, Kelowna, BC (ISN) – An attack error by Oliva Grecu (4th year, Calgary, AB) of Mount Royal handed the Heat the second set 25-22. As both teams broke the huddle to begin the third set, it seemed as if the Heat had finally rid themselves of any doubt that lingered after a deflating five-set loss the night before.
But then MRU came alive. Defensively, the Cougars frustrated the Heat attack over the final three sets, as open court was hard to come by for the host team. Mount Royal built momentum in that third set and were able to just barely hold on in a come-from-behind five-set victory 3-2 (25-21, 22-25, 15-25, 25-21, 15-13), to take the game and the series two games to none.
As expected, the second post-season meeting between both clubs played out like the first, as both teams played point-for-point for almost the entirety of the match. Long rallies extended by unfathomable digs would be the theme on this night, as both teams refused to break defensively. However, Mount Royal’s 80 digs to the Heat’s 71 proved to be the difference, as the battle of attrition was barely won out by the Cougars.
For the second night in a row, Katie Wuttunee (2nd year, North Vancouver, BC) played her best volleyball of the season, connecting on 11 kills while also adding 4 blocks on the defensive side. Katy Klomps (2nd year, Surrey, BC), after only playing two sets the previous night, played all five and anchored the Heat front-line with nine blocks assists and two solo blocks to go along with four kills.
The graduate Alex Basso (5th year, Kelowna, BC), in what will now be the final game of her storied career at UBC Okanagan, finished with a team-high 13 kills and an inspired 20 digs for the program she helped build into the success it is today.
Her effort over the past five years did not go unnoticed either and it showed Friday night, as fans of not only the Heat, but of Alex Basso came out in droves to try and help stave off a Mount Royal victory. After falling into a lull in the third and fourth sets, the crowd erupted in the fifth after a Basso bomb from the outside put her team ahead 1-0. Chants of “Basso” rang throughout the gymnasium to honour what has been an incredible career for the hometown product.
While the loss will inevitably be difficult to deal with, it does not tarnish what was otherwise a hugely successful 2012/2013 season by the UBC Okanagan Heat. Not only did the Heat sweep the sixth-ranked Manitoba Bisons, they were able to dethrone the number one team in the nation, Trinity Western.
A 15-7 season, however, has come to an end. The Heat will now graciously exit the Canada West post-season and will look to next season as a new beginning in what should be an even more exciting season of volleyball here at UBC Okanagan.
For Mount Royal Julia Pasieka (4th year, Calgary, AB), who had 15 kills, led the Cougars on this night; her offensive production was supplemented well by Carolyn O’Dwyer (1st year, Lethbridge, AB), who added 12 kills and 12 digs. Olivia Grecu (4th, year Calgary, AB) was able to get her hands on 21 digs and put down nine kills.
It will be the Mount Royal Cougars moving on to the Canada West Final Four, as MRU refused to break defensively over the course of the match.
With the win, the Cougars will move on to the Canada West Final Four next weekend in Vancouver at War Memorial Gymnasium, joining the No. 1 UBC Thunderbirds and the No. 2 Trinity Western Spartans who have already earned berths. Alberta leads Manitoba one game to none for the fourth and final berth.
The top three finishers of the tournament earn a berth to the CIS championships. The 2013 CIS Women’s Volleyball Championship will be held February 28th to March 2nd at the Université de Sherbrooke.