VANCOUVER, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat and UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball teams needed a fifth set on Friday night to decide the winner of their first Canada West match after the winter break. The T-Birds took the first two sets (25-21, 26-24) and the Heat took the third and fourth (25-23, 25-18), but the ‘Birds took over in the fifth and closed out with win (15-5).
Down two sets to one, the fourth set was the Heat’s most dominant. They took an early 2-0 lead and only once did they allow the Thunderbirds to string together more than two consecutive points. UBC never led in the set, and a pair of four-point runs early on was enough to give UBCO the breathing room they needed. Alex Swiatlowski put away a kill for the final point, as the Heat took it 25-18.
The deciding set was close early on, with the Heat tying it up at 1, 2, and 3 all after UBC scored the first point. The Thunderbirds then strung together five straight points around the break, stretching their lead to 10-4. Then, after a UBCO point and timeout, the T-Birds scored another five straight points, including four kills, to run away with the set and end it, with Mat Guidi burying one of his 15 kills on the final point to make it 15-5 for the home side.
Alex Swiatlowski put up the biggest numbers on the attack in the match, finishing with 19 kills for the Heat on a .341 hitting percentage. Lars Bornemann and Joshua Harvey also finished with 10 and eight respectively. For UBC, Mat Guidi led the way with 15 kills, while Irvan Brar and Cam Fennema finished with 11 and nine respectively.
UBC finished ahead in kills (57-48), hitting percentage (.229 – .194), assists (45-56), and service aces (9-8), while UBCO finished up in blocks (9 – 4.5) and digs (53 – 48).
The opening set saw the Heat take control early, holding the lead for the majority. Late in the set, though, with the Heat up 20-16, the Thunderbirds took over. UBC put together a five point run, that included two kills and back-to-back service aces, to take a 21-20 lead, and then a point later strung together another four straight and closed the set out, 25-21, on a Byron Keturakis service ace.
The second set again saw the visitors jump out to an early lead, and the Heat were in control until the ‘Birds strung together five straight to take a 12-11 lead. UBCO took back the lead, and then the two teams were tied five more times. Three consecutive kills, two by Mat Guidi and another from Cam Fennema, then gave the home side the set victory in extra points.
Set number three saw both teams string together runs, with the Heat taking eight of nine at one point to go up 18-11. The Thunderbirds then strung together seven straight to tie it up at 18. After four more ties and three more lead changes, the Heat closed the set out 25-23 thanks to a Joshua Harvey kill for the final point.
The Heat (4-7) and the Thunderbirds (7-4) will meet again Saturday night, with first serve scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in UBC’s War Memorial Gymnasium.