Heat take No. 2 Spartans to five

Okanagan heat-logo-just-H

by Cary Mellon

January 18, 2014, LANGLEY, BC (ISN) – The Heat came within 15 points of knocking off another top ten team in the nation for the second straight weekend, but Trinity Western proved why they are tops in Canada West, outlasting the Heat Friday night in Langley 3-2 (25-15, 22-25, 19-25, 25-17, 15-9) in men’s volleyball action.

The Heat were able to jump out to the early 2-1 lead over Trinity Western due largely in part to a “bend-don’t-break” style of defense that held Lucas Van Berkel, Brad Kufske, and Nicholas Del Bianco to under 10 kills each over the first three sets.

However, Van Berkel, Kufske, and Del Bianco would begin to find their rhythm collectively to begin the fourth quarter, as each player connected on a kill in Trinity’s first five points of the set. Seven unforced errors committed by the Heat over the course of the set helped contribute to the Spartan set victor, who hit .440 in the set to stave off the Heat to push the game to a fifth set.

Errors continued to plague the Heat in the fifth set as the team committed two in the first four points to give Trinity Western the early 4-0 advantage. Van Berkel, Kufske, and Del Bianco would carry their team the rest of the way as UBC Okanagan struggled to recapture the winning defensive formula that neutralized the trio in the first three sets. Van Berkel, Kufske, and Del Bianco would finish the game with 10, 16, and 14 kills respectively.

“[Trinity Western] clearly had a better fifth set than we did,” remarked Heat head coach Greg Poitras post-game. “Their experience was key for them in that set, and the pressure they put on us from the service line was easily the most we’ve seen all season.”

For the Heat, Nate Speijer (5th year, Penticton, BC) would lead the attack with 14 kills, while Alex Swiatlowksi (2nd year, Victoria, BC), Lars Bornemann (1st year, Victoria, BC), and Jim Bell (2nd year, Surrey, BC) all had 8 kills each and a combined 23 digs. Kristof Schlagintweit (2nd year, Abbotsford, BC) continued his strong play as of late, distributing the ball efficiently and effectively to the tune of 37 assists. More importantly, he never relied too heavily on one particular hitter, incorporating an offensive variety that was difficult to defend.

“We executed well through a good chunk of the match, and Kristof made things happen” added Poitras in reference to the strong start from the Heat. “But losing after being up 2-1 is not something we are happy about right now.”

The win sees Trinity Western improve to 14-1, while UBC Okanagan regresses to 4-11.

Despite the result, there were many positives for the Heat to build upon for tomorrow’s game besides being able to push the Spartans to the limit in five sets. The Heat were able to both out block (7-6) and out dig their opponents (34-33), while also only committing five reception errors to Trinity’s eight over the course of the five sets.

How the Heat respond to such an emotionally draining loss remains to be seen, but there remains optimism for an upset from the 4-11 club from UBC Okanagan.

The Heat will get their second chance at an upset victory tomorrow evening versus the Spartans at 7 p.m. at the Langley Events Centre.