The No. 5-ranked UBC Okanagan Heat rolled to a three-set victory over the Regina Cougars on Friday night in a Canada West women’s volleyball match at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.
The Heat held Regina to negative hitting percentages in both of the first two sets, which they won by convincing scores of 25-12 and 25-10.
Coming into the match there was a three-way tie for the Canada West career conference record in service aces between Emily Oxland, Megan Festival and Shanlee McLennan, who graduated from the Brandon Bobcats last year, all with 138. Oxland began the match serving for the Heat and it was her fifth serve that broke the record with her 139th career service ace, it also put UBCO up 5-0. Oxland finished the match with two aces to set the record at 140, Oxland also owns the Canada West record for most aces in a season (46) set in 2012-13. Festival, now chasing Oxland for the record is just one behind – Festival closed out the match with her only ace on the night.
The third set had the same ending – a UBC Okanagan win – but a very different story leading up to it. Leah Sywanyk had two kills and two aces to help the Cougars score seven of the first eight points of the set, forcing a Heat timeout. UBC Okanagan got to within two at 10-8, but the Cougars went on a 7-3 run to take a six-point lead after the technical timeout.
But the Heat pulled off an impressive comeback to clinch the match. They faced a Regina set point at 24-23, but Megan Festival scored back-to-back kills to give the visitors their first lead of the set and the fifth-year outside hitter then stepped back to the baseline and delivered an ace to give UBC Okanagan the win. In the end, UBC Okanagan claimed 10 of the final 13 points of the set on its way to a 26-24 victory.
Kaitlynn Given had nine kills to lead all players and also had a match-high .615 hitting percentage for UBC Okanagan, which improves to 6-1 with the victory. Michelle Jakszuk added eight kills and four aces for the Heat, while Festival finished with six kills and a team-high nine digs.
Leah Sywanyk didn’t start for the Cougars, but was again effective off the bench and had a team-leading five kills while hitting .364 for the match. Taylor Ungar had a match-high 11 digs for the Cougars, while Ashlee Sandiford was just behind with 10 digs.
The two teams will meet again on Saturday night at the CKHS. Match time is set for 5 p.m.
~ Braden Konschuh, Regina Cougars