KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team fell to the University of Calgary Dinos in straight sets in the second of this weekend’s matches, the last of the 2016 slate of this Canada West conference season.
Despite the disappointing loss to close out the 2016 portion of the season, the Heat men are in a position to make a push for the playoffs in new year. Sitting in eighth place in the Canada West standings, with a record of (4-6), they are only one step out of a playoff spot. Just shy of .500 going into 2017, and potentially just one weekend series away from jumping up in the standings, the calendar turnover will see a Heat chapter beginning with legitimate promise for a playoff run.
The nationally-ranked Dinos played far better than on Friday night, this time not allowing the Heat a single set victory.
Calgary finished ahead in all major statistical categories on Saturday night. The visitors finished with the edge in kills (46-31), hit percentage (.378 – .149), assists (44-29), and blocks (8-4). Both teams finished with five service aces in the match.
Curtis Stockton proved himself to be the best attacker on the night, finishing with 19 kills and hitting and exceptional .586 for the Dinos. Behind him leading the Calgary attack was Alex Bader, who finished with 14 kills and hit .387 and led all with three total blocks.
For the Heat, Kyle Hinchey led the attack with 10 kills, and added four digs and two total blocks to round out his stat line. Alex Swiatlowski followed closely behind, with eight kills, two total blocks, and a service ace. Micah Brown finished with three service aces in the match, as well as nine digs.
The first set went to the Dinos, 25-15. Calgary pulled ahead early in the opening frame, going up 6-2 after a Curtis Stockton service ace. The Heat pulled within one shortly after, thanks to a pair of kills from Micah Brown and Alex Swiatlowski. A four-point Dinos run immediately following the Swiatlowski kill put the visitors up 12-7, though, and that separation was enough to put the Dinos safely ahead. For the remainder of the set, Calgary only allowed the Heat to score consecutive points once. As on Friday night, the first set on Saturday saw the Heat handicap themselves with errors, with nine compared to the Dinos two. As a result, UBCO hit -.033, with eight kills, while Calgary hit .333, with 10.
The second set was much closer than the first, but the Dinos went on to take it 25-23, thanks to more Heat errors late. The set saw both teams improve on their hitting numbers, with Calgary putting away 17 kills (.400) and UBC Okanagan having 14 (.414). Curtis Stockton and Kyle Hinchey combined for 15 kills in the frame, with eight and seven for the Dinos and Heat respectively.
The third set was similar to the second, with the Dinos taking it 25-20 to complete the straight-sets victory. Errors were an issue again for the Heat, as they had six in their 35 attacks, resulting in a hitting percentage of .086 with nine kills. Calgary was at their most dominant in the final set, putting away 19 kills and hitting .385.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (4-6) will play their next matches on the road in the new year, when they travel to UBC to play the Thunderbirds (6-4) on January 6 & 7. The Dinos will play next on those same days, when they travel to Kamloops to play the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (1-9).
~ Grayson Leahy / UBC Okanagan