Unbeaten Alberta Pandas took an efficient three-set victory against the UBC Okanagan women


 The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team fell by a final score of 3-0 against the University of Alberta Pandas on Friday night in the Saville Community Sports Centre on Friday night. Set scores were 25-15, 25-11, and 25-22.

Even with the loss the Heat clinched a spot in the Canada West post season with their 12-7 record. Alberta continues to roll and are now 19-0 and are close to clinching the best record in Canada West and the host berth of the Final Four.

UBC Okanagan couldn’t seem to find their consistency on the attack, hitting negative attack percentages in the first two sets. On the other side the Pandas proved why they’ve yet to lose by committing only 12 attack errors, with no more than six in a set.

Kills in the match were 35-23 for Alberta, whose 12 errors were nearly half of the Heat’s 23. The Pandas finished with a hitting percentage of .271 while the Heat finished at .000. Total blocks in the match were seven for the Pandas and six for the Heat, and service aces were eight to five in favour of the home side.

Alberta’s Meg Casault finished with a match-high 12 kills, and hit .207. Second-best for the Pandas was Karly Janssen, with seven kills. Mariah Walsh led the match in assists with 26.

The UBC Okanagan attack was led by Erin Drew and Kaitlynn Given, who each finished with five kills. Given also had the most service aces for the Heat, with two of UBCO’s five. Alberta served strong all three sets and finished with eight aces. Three each from Kacey Otto and Shauny Hogg, Otto has served her way to number one in the Canada West record books in all-time aces with 168 to date. The Heat’s Emily Oxland and Megan Festival in pursuit with 153 and 151 respectively for second and third.

The Heat had the advantage in kills in the opening set, putting away nine to the Pandas’ seven, but the visiting side made 10 attacking errors and hit -.029 while Alberta hit .080 and made just five errors. A five-point run in the first half of the opening frame put the Pandas up 14-7, and they held a 16-11 lead at the technical time-out. Two more runs of three points each stretched Alberta’s lead to 22-12, and a Kacey Otto kill cemented the set in at 25-15.

The second set was when Alberta found their swing, as they put away 16 kills on .484 hitting. UBCO had four kills and hit -.031 in the set. The second saw the Pandas once again start off with a run, going up 5-1 after scoring four straight. A three-point run by the Heat brought them within two at 8-6, but Alberta scored 10 unanswered points shortly after to jump way out ahead, 21-8. A pair of errors by UBCO closed out the set, 25-11.

The final set was the closest of the match, with the Pandas taking it 25-22. Statistically it was close as well, with the Heat finishing with 10 kills and a .061 percentage, while the Pandas had 12 on .207. At the technical time-out the Heat were ahead 16-15, and they held the lead through two ties until Alberta scored four straight points to pull ahead 21-18. Kaitlynn Given had two kills late, but it wasn’t enough to come all the way back, as once again a pair of attack errors provided the final points for the Pandas.

The UBC Okanagan Heat (12-7) and the University of Alberta Pandas (19-0) will play again tomorrow night, with first serve scheduled for 6:30 p.m. MST (5:30 p.m. PST)  in Edmonton’s Saville Community Sports Centre.

~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan

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