Jim Bell was effective in the conference opener against Alberta for UBC Okanagan. (Photo by Alex Hill)
Tough match up in Edmonton for UBC Okanagan as Alberta won in straight sets 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-20).
Men’s Volleyball (Canada West conference play)
Saville Sports Centre, Edmonton, AB
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EDMOnTON, AB – The preseason No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Alberta Golden Bears were as good as advertised as they dispatched the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team in straight sets (25-16, 25-22, 25-20) to open the 2014 Canada West conference season in Edmonton’s Saville Centre on Friday night.
In spite of the score the Heat did receive some positive performances as third year middle Jim Bell (Surrey, BC) was effective on the attack with 10 kills (.240), four digs, and three blocks for 11.5 points to lead the team. Alex Swiatlowski (3rd, outside hitter, Victoria, BC) finished with nine kills (.150), and Joshua Harvey (3rd, middle, Cochrane, AB) had three blocks and the lone service ace for UBC Okanagan.
The Bears finished with eight service aces, led by right-side hitter Kevin Proudfoot’s (3) and his 11 kills were second for Alberta. Proudfoot, who is in his fourth season, finished the night with an impressive .667 attack percentage, as well as game high in digs (5).Third-year left-side hitter Ryan Nickifor led Alberta with 13 kills and he also chipped in with two kills.
The Bears also finished with a team attack percentage of .338, compared to .132 for UBC Okanagan.
After dropping the opening match to the physical Alberta squad 25-16 in the first set, the Heat roared back in the second set, thanks to a .591 attack percentage, but they couldn’t hold on for the win as they eventually surrendered to the 2103-14 champs, losing 25-22.
In the third set UBC Okanagan was able to post slim leads throughout, but Alberta seemed to get better as the points increased, and was able to close out the match with superior blocking and aces from Proudfoot and Nickifor at 25-20.
The Bears are still good as “good as ever and they used their physicality to their full advantage,” said UBC Okanagan head coach Greg Poitras, who was pleased at his team’s ability to compete with the national champs, yet he also lamented the fact that they were unable to sustain that level throughout the match.
Poitras explained how the game is played above the net and the size and length of the top-ranked squad was a difference Friday night and the Bears are a very big and skilled offensively group.
Looking ahead to the rematch Poitras plans to “attack the disciplined Bears with better execution on the serve” and plans to force Alberta “out of system” more than they were able to in Friday’s match.
Alberta and UBC Okanagan will clash again on Saturday; this time at 5:30 p.m. (PDT), prior to the rematch the Bears will add their seventh CIS national championship banner to the walls of the Saville Community Sports Centre.
~ with notes from Alberta Sports Information.