by Cary Mellon
January 25, 2014, KELOWNA, BC (ISN) – Needing a win after four straight losses to open 2014, the UBC Okanagan Heat exhausted all efforts in their fifth-set come-from-behind 3-2 (24-26, 26-24, 25-15, 21-25, 15-13) victory over the visiting Alberta Pandas Friday night in tightly contested Canada West women’s volleyball match in Kelowna.
“A win is a win is a win is a win,” finished Manuel. “I totally commend our team, and how we fought back after being down like that and never giving up. That’s our team. They never give up.”
Facing an 11-5 deficit in the fifth frame, Megan Festival (2nd year, Calgary, AB) would take to the service line, and calmly, she would proceed to take over the game. Festival would rattle off five straight tough serves that put the Pandas on their heels, and render them unable to get a quality pass off, Alberta’s offense deteriorated into a string of free-ball attempts.
The lack of offensive threat from the Panda’s allowed the Heat offense, behind the electric arm of Brianna Beamish (3rd year, Surrey, BC), to take over. The third-year outside hitter would connect on four of her team-high 12 kills during that five game serving streak of Festival’s to bring the Heat within one at 10-11. Both teams would exchange points down the stretch, but UBC Okanagan would take the lead at 14-13 after a Meg Casault error.
Emily Oxland would proceed to take the ball from the service line, and at 14-13, she would put the game on ice from the service line with a service ace that fell just in front of the Panda back-line.
For her fifth-set efforts, Brianna Beamish was named Player of the Game, and post-game she helped explained what the winning formula was behind the Heat’s comeback.
“When we switched sides [after 8 points], we just started playing free,” explained Beamish. “We got back to playing big girl volleyball. We started hitting hard, serving tough, and getting great touches on the ball.”
Heat head coach Steve Manuel also felt his team got back to playing big girl volleyball, or more specifically, their style of volleyball.
“We’re working back to where we want to be,” said Manuel. “We played our brand of volleyball in the second and third set, but we’re not quite where we want to be yet. We’re getting there, and tonight was a big step towards that.”
Behind the efforts of Beamish, Katy Klomps (3rd year, Surrey, BC) had one of her best games of the new year, connecting on 12 kills, while adding 6 digs and 5 block assists. Lenai Schmidt (5th year, Vernon, BC) continued to prove her worth from the back-row, boosting her dig total with 24 in this match.
For the Pandas, Meg Casault finished with 15 kills on a game-high 63 attempts, while supporting the Alberta defense with 13 digs. Dione Lang and Karly Janssen were right behind her with 12 and 11 kills respectfully, but as a team, Alberta was only able to hit .098 on the evening
Both teams will resume the weekend series tomorrow evening at 5 p.m. from UBC’s Okanagan campus gymnasium.
HEAT NOTES: Both teams would combine for 203 total digs and 102 total assists, in addition to 400 total attempts over the course of the five sets….Emily Oxland’s 6 kills were a career best; she tallied as many as 3 kills 5 times in her two years for the Heat.