Strong defensive performance spoiled in Heat loss

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by Cary Mellon

February 1, 2014, WINNIPEG, MB (ISN) – Early set deficits cost UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team in their Friday night match against Manitoba, and the Bisons took full advantage in their straight set 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-22) home court victory.

The Heat would surrender early leads of 6-2, 6-3, and 6-2 in all three sets, and while they would eventually dig themselves out of their deficits and play close with the Bisons, they would never lead in the match.

“We just struggled to get things going tonight,” said Heat setter Kristof Schlagintweit (2nd year, Abbotsford, BC) post-game. “But I thought there were spots where we definitely outplayed Manitoba.”

Despite the Heat’s early set struggles, the young squad from UBC Okanagan did impose their will defensively at the net, combining for 9.5 total team blocks. Jim Bell (2nd year, Surrey, BC) had two massive solo blocks for the Heat to bring his total to eleven over his past 7 games. Bell had 5 of the Heat’s 15 total block assists on the night as well.

A notable absence from the Heat in this game was that of Nate Speijer (5th year, Penticton, BC), who did not dress with the team due to a shoulder injury. However, Alex Swiatlowski (2nd year, Victoria, BC) proved more than willing to bear the bulk of the offensive load, tallying 9 kills and adding 1 service ace for the Speijer-free Heat. Kyle Pankratz (3rd year, Surrey, BC) had six kills and five digs as well for the Heat in the three set effort.

An interesting subplot to this game was the first meeting between rookies Adam DeJonckheere (1st year, Winnipeg, MB) and Lars Bornemann (1st year, Victoria, BC), arguably Canada West’s top two first-year players. DeJonckheere would get the better of Bornemann on this night, leading the Bisons with thirteen kills, three service aces, and four digs.

The win sees Manitoba’s record improve to 8-11, and the Bisons continue to remain afloat among the murky Canada West playoff waters. Meanwhile, the loss puts the Heat’s record at 4-15 – mathematically eliminating UBC Okanagan from the playoffs.

“We just have some things we need to tune up [for Saturday],” finished Schlagintweit. “It will be a different game.”

Both teams will get another shot at one another tomorrow evening from the Investors Group Athletic Centre in Winnipeg, MB. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m. PST.