KELOWNA, BC – In an extremely tightly contested match UBC Okanagan fell to the visiting Trinity Western Spartans in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium Friday night. The five set Canada West women’s volleyball match was decided by a score of 22-20 in the Heat’s first action on their home court in 2017.
This top-ten U Sports matchup as expected went the full five sets, the seventh straight times these two teams went the distance. Set scores were: 12-25, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, and 22-20.
The deciding set was closely-contested all the way through, with the Heat eking out an 8-7 lead at the technical time-out. The Spartans battled back to tie it at 9-9, the tying point coming on a kill from Micaylee Pucilowski. UBC Okanagan scored three straight to jump ahead 12-9 after that, but Trinity Western scored three of their own to tie it again at 12-12. Jakszuk once again earned a crucial kill, putting the Heat up 13-12, but kills for the Spartans from Ashtyn McKenzie and Wendel kept the set tied late, 14-14. The two teams then traded points well into extra points, tying it over and over again. Back-to-back kills from Given and Jakszuk gave the home side a lead, at 19-18, but the Spartans put away consecutive kills of their own, thanks to Sophie Carpentier, to pull ahead 20-19. Carpentier scored another to put Trinity up 21-20, before Nikki Cornwall put away a kill to give the Spartans the 22-20 set victory, and the 3-2 match win.
Trinity Western finished with a slight edge statistically in the match. The visitors were ahead 57-55 in kills, .167-.121 in hitting percentage, and 15-11 in blocks. The Heat finished ahead in service aces, 10-7, and digs, 75-62. Each team finished with 53 assists.
Trinity Western’s Sophie Carpentier and Elizabeth Wendel led all hitters in the match with 19 kills apiece. Wendel also finished with six total blocks in the match.
The Heat attack was led by Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who finished with 16 kills. Kaitlynn Given and Michelle Jakszuk each finished with 15, and Given added 22 digs.
The Heat started the first set on a roll, putting together two five-point runs before taking a 16-8 lead at the technical time-out. The Spartans would score just three more points after the break, on a service error and a pair of kills, before UBCO closed the set out with a pair of four-point runs. The Spartans made an uncharacteristic number of errors in the frame, giving up five of the final six Heat points on mistakes.
UBC Okanagan started the second set strong again, putting together another early five-point run to take a 6-3 lead. Immediately after that the Spartans strung together six straight points of their own, though, going up 9-6. The two sides essentially traded points from then on, with neither stringing together more than three straight the rest of the way, before Trinity Western closed out the set win on a Heat service error.
Trinity Western scored three straight twice early in the third set, taking a 10-6 lead. The Heat answered with back-to-back kills to pull within two at 10-8, before pulling with one at the technical time-out, 16-15. A five-point run by the Spartans put the visitors up 21-16, and they went on to take it 25-20 despite back-to-back kills from Michelle Jakszuk late in the set.
UBC Okanagan took a 3-2 lead as the two teams traded points to start the fourth set, but a three-point run put the Spartans up early, 5-3. A three-point run by the Heat pulled them within one before the technical time-out, but a kill from Elizabeth Wendel gave the Spartans a 16-13 lead at the break. Five straight Heat points tied the set up at 19-19, and after a pair of Spartan points UBCO scored another four straight to take a late lead at 23-21. A Kaitlynn Given kill made it set point, at 24-22, and she buried another on the final point to give her Heat the 25-23 win.
The Heat (10-5) and the Spartans (14-1) will play again tomorrow night in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium, with first serve scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific Time.
~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan