KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team took down the University of Saskatchewan Huskies in three sets in the UBC Okanagan gym on Friday night.
Since entering Canada West in 2011 the Heat and Huskies have faced off eight times previously with the ‘Dogs prevailing all eight times. On Friday night the Heat ended that streak and their seven match losing skid by gutting out an incredible second set (34-32). This just after taking the first (25-20) and then finishing off the team from Saskatoon in the third (25-23).
The closely-contested second set needed 16 extra points to be resolved. The Heat jumped ahead 10-5, and the Huskies promptly tied it up at 10. At the technical time-out UBCO had taken back the lead, 16-15, and then pulled ahead 22-19. First set point came with the Heat up 24-22. The set was then tied eight times, with four lead changes, before a kill from Joshua Harvey and a Saskatchewan attack error were the final tallies in the frame, giving the Heat the 34-32 victory.
In that second set Saskatchewan had a hitting percentage of .261 and put away 21 kills, and the Heat finished with 18 kills on .255. The statistical difference was consistency, as the Huskies made nine attack errors while the Heat made just six.
In the match, the Heat finished with 11 fewer kills (37-48), but a better hitting percentage (.221 – .205). UBCO also finished with more service aces (6-1), while the Huskies had the edge in digs (47-42) and total blocks (10-9).
The Heat’s Lars Bornemann led the match in kills, finishing with 15. Behind him for the Heat was Alex Swiatlowski, who finished with six and led the match with 12 digs. Jon Russo led the match in assists, with 28, and in service aces, with three.
Saskatchewan was led by Andrew Nelson, with 13 kills. Zak Rempel (11) and Colin Fraser (10) rounded out the Huskies’ top three hitters. Derek Epp led the Huskies in assists, with 24, and tied with Etienne Hagenbuch for a team-high 11 digs.
The first set saw the largest margin of victory for the Heat, at 25-20. They hit .115 and finished with seven kills, and the Huskies had 11 kills on .061. UBCO took the lead on the first point and never gave it up. Saskatchewan was able to tie it up at 7-7, 8-8, 9-9, and 17-17. A Kyle Hinchey kill was the final point, giving the Heat the 1-0 lead.
The third set saw the Heat once again lead early, but Saskatchewan owned the lead through the middle of the set. A five-point run put the Huskies up 11-9, and they held on to the advantage until the Heat took it back at 19-18. Four points by Lars Bornemann after that point was enough for the Heat to hold on, as his 15th kill was the 25th UBCO point of the set and the final point of the match, giving the Heat the win.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (5-12) and the Saskatchewan Huskies (8-9) will play again Saturday night, with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan