The nationally fourth-ranked UBC Okanagan Heat defeated the fifth-ranked University of Calgary Dinos on Friday night, 3-2, in the first of two matches this weekend in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
The match started with the visiting Dinos having all the momentum, and taking a lopsided first set. Calgary then went up 2-0, leaving UBCO on the verge of being swept for the first time this Canada West season. The home team earned back the momentum in the third set, though, and never gave it up. Taking the final three sets, with the fifth being arguably the most closely-contested of the match, UBC Okanagan retained their higher spot in the U Sports Top 10.
The Heat finished well ahead in a number of statistical categories on Friday night. They finished with 62 kills to the Dinos’ 45, hit .112 against the visitors’ .107, and earned 11 service aces while holding Calgary to only two.
Individually, the Dinos’ Kate Pexman led all hitters on the night with 19 kills. Siobhan Fitzpatrick led the way for the Heat, with 17. Erin Drew and Emily Oxland also had exceptional nights from the service line for the Heat, finishing with four and three aces respectively.
The fifth set saw some of the best play of the match, with both teams holding leads of at least three points and the result uncertain until the final point was scored.
The Heat and the Dinos traded four-point runs early on in the deciding frame, with UBCO going up 4-1 before Calgary came back to go up 5-4. Midway through the set, the Dinos put together another four-point run, this time going up 11-8.
The Heat then scored on back-to-back kills from Kaitlynn Given and Siobhan Fitzpatrick, before going up 13-12 on another Fitzpatrick kill.
Fitzpatrick earned her second consecutive kill, and third in six points, to set her team up at match point. Kaitlynn Given put the match away, with her eighth kill of the match.
The first set went 25-17 to the visiting Calgary Dinos as Calgary out-hit the Heat 12-10 in the opening frame, making only five hitting errors to the Heat’s 10.
The Calgary block only allowed UBCO to hit a .000 attack percentage in the first. The Heat’s only lead in the first set came at 1-0, before the Dinos took control. The home side pulled the set to a tie three times, at 6-6, 12-12, and 13-13.
The second tie of the set was the result of one of the longest scoring runs in the set, after UBCO came from down 12-8 to tie it at 12-12. That run for the Heat included three kills and a pair of service aces for the home side. The Dinos had a five-point run of their own in the set, scoring five consecutive to go from down 0-1 to up 5-1.
That run consisted of four Calgary kills and a Heat attack error. The Dinos closed out the set win thanks to a Brianna Solberg kill and a pair of UBCO attack errors.
The second set was much more even than the first, with neither team taking more than a two-point lead until the Heat went up 23-20. The Dinos rallied back late, tying the set at 23-23. The visitors then scored three straight to take the set 26-24 after an Aidan Lea kill gave the Heat another lead. The final three points came courtesy of a Laura McManes kill and two more Heat attack errors.
Already up 2-0 in the match, the Dinos jumped out to a 4-0 lead, with three points coming on three straight Heat attack errors, to start the third set. The Heat battled back after that, but were down 16-11 at the technical time out. After that time out, the UBCO side went on an outstanding 11-point run to take a 22-16 lead. That run included four kills and two service aces for the home side, with two of those kills coming from Aidan Lea and both aces from Erin Drew.
Late in the set, the Dinos brought the score to 24-19, but three Heat kills in the last five points, including two from Kaitlynn Given, cemented the UBCO set victory.
Calgary jumped out to an early lead again in the fourth set, going up 3-0.
The Heat bounced back quickly, though, scoring six straight to take a 6-3 lead. The attack errors came on the other side of the net this time, with four of those six straight points coming on Dinos errors. UBC Okanagan quickly followed that run up with another, scoring five straight to go from up 8-5 to up 12-5. That run included two kills and three more Dinos attack errors.
UBCO never let the Dinos closer than four points away after that, and finished the set with the final three points coming on a pair of kills from Aidan Lea and another from Megan Festival.
The Heat (8-1) and the Dinos (7-2) will meet again tomorrow night, with first serve set for 5 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan