Heat fall in four to defending champs

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ubc heat mens volleyball

After jumping out to a first set win, the UBC Okanagan men’s volleyball team couldn’t win another against the undefeated Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night at UBC Okanagan.

KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team took the first set against visiting University of Alberta Golden Bears 25-22, but lost the next three sets by scores of 25-12, 25-17, and 25-19 to fall by a final score of three sets to one. After the final whistle on Friday night, the Golden Bears held a record of 15-0 on the season, and Heat’s record sits at 3-12.

The first set was the high point of the match for UBC Okanagan, as throughout the entirety of the set they didn’t give up their lead, and they won it 25-22 after holding off a strong near-comeback by the University of Alberta. The Heat’s set win was cemented by a kill from Lars Bornemann, one of four from the UBC Okanagan outside hitter.

The set was only the fifth that the University of Alberta have lost so far this season. The other four have come against Thompson Rivers on October 16 (3-1), Manitoba on November 21 (3-1), and Trinity Western on January 8 & 9 (3-1, 3-1).

“I liked how we came out in the first set,” said Head Coach Greg Poitras, “that was something we’d talked about before the game, is that we wanted to come out sharp, and we wanted to have a good first point, good first receive. The Bears didn’t play too well in the first set, our numbers weren’t great either, but we just kind of grinded out that set.”

On the positives that they as a team can take from that set and use to get ready for tomorrow, he added, “We need to score better, that’s what we need to extend into other sets, and that kind of disappeared for sets two and set three, and then in set four, in the first part of that set, and then we made a nice little push in the middle of set four.”

For the match, the Heat’s offence was led by Bornemann and Alex Swiatlowski, with 10 and nine kills respectively. The match leaders in kills from the University of Alberta were Ryley Barnes with nine, and Ryan Nickifor and Alex McMullin with eight apiece.

From the beginning of the second set through the final point of the fourth, the Golden Bears showed why they have yet to be beaten this season. Despite a strong presence at the net from the Heat, the score in each of the final three sets went in favour of the visitors from the University of Alberta.

The third set saw the Golden Bears score on ten kills, for a team kill percentage of .500, against UBC Okanagan’s nine kills, and percentage of .136. The final set saw those numbers change to 12 kills, .267 for the U of A and nine kills, .067 for UBCO. The visiting Golden Bears were swinging away, and hitting their mark.

Defensively, the Golden Bears had the advantage. Leading the way for the University of Alberta in blocks were Taylor Arnett, who had ten total blocks, and Ryan Nickifor, who had nine. For UBC Okanagan’s defensive effort, Alex Swiatlowski had the most total blocks, with five, and Eli Russo had the most digs, with ten. As a team, the Heat’s defence played strong throughout, holding the University of Alberta’s hitters to a collective .237 kill percentage for the match, well below their season average of .350.

Despite their strong start, the Heat were not able to take back a lead following the first set. With two UBC Okanagan players finishing the match with negative kill percentages, and only one with a kill percentage above .222, the attack was effectively shut down by the University of Alberta.

The two teams face off again tomorrow, Saturday January 16th, first serve at 7 p.m. at the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.

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