In a match that went a full five sets on Friday night, the UBC Okanagan women won the final two sets to complete the comeback victory.

KELOWNA, BC – The UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball team defeated the MacEwan Griffins 3-2 on Friday night in Kelowna. Set scores were 22-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, and 15-8.

It was a must-win match for the Griffins, as their playoff hopes relied on a pair of wins this weekend coupled with a pair of Mount Royal losses. During the match in Kelowna, though, Mount Royal cemented their spot in the postseason with a 3-0 victory over Winnipeg, locking in the seven Canada West playoff teams with MacEwan on the outside.

In the Friday night contest, the Griffins were the slightly better hitting team, finishing with a .189 hitting percentage while the Heat hit .115. Each team finished with 54 kills. MacEwan had the edge in total blocks (17-8) while UBCO were ahead in digs (100-88), and service aces (11-5).

MacEwan’s Cassidy Kinsella had an outstanding night on the attack, putting away a match-high 25 kills. Behind her for the Griffins were Haley Gilfillan (8) and Kate Rozendaal (7).

For the Heat it was Siobhan Fitzpatrick leading the way with 15 kills, while Megan Festival and Aidan Lea also finished in double digits with 12 and 10 kills respectively. Emily Oxland had a match-high in digs with 22, and Fitzpatrick tied with Kaitlynn Given for match-high in service aces, with three.

MacEwan jumped ahead 3-0 to start the deciding fifth set, before UBCO scored three straight of their own a few points later to pull ahead 6-5. At the technical time-out the Heat were ahead 8-6, in the middle of a five-point run that would put them ahead 11-6. Kills from Aidan Lea and Emily Oxland put the Heat up 13-7, and a Griffins service error brought match point for UBCO. Siobhan Fitzpatrick provided the final point on an exceptional kill, giving the Heat the set and match victory.

The Griffins were able to shut down the Heat’s normally dominant hitting in the first set, holding them to 10 kills on a .024 hitting percentage. The visitors had 14 kills and hit .213 in the opening set which they went on to win 25-22. A three-point run to go up 4-3 and a five-point run to pull ahead 9-4 made the difference for the visitors, as from then on they wouldn’t relinquish the lead. Another run, this time of six points, put MacEwan up 19-12, and despite a seven-point run by the Heat to pull within a point at 22-21 the Albertan side held on to earn the set win after two of their final three points were delivered by Cassidy Kinsella kills.

The second set went to UBC Okanagan, 25-23. The longest scoring run in the frame came early on when the Heat scored four straight to take an 8-4 lead, but the Griffins battled back and strung together six straight points to pull ahead before the technical time-out, 15-14. UBCO were up 16-15 at the break but once again MacEwan took a lead at 19-18, before the Heat took it back again at 22-21. After two more ties, at 22-22 and 23-23, the home side cemented the victory thanks to back-to-back kills from Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Megan Festival.

The Griffins jumped ahead early in the third set, scoring three straight to start it. They were up 15-11 just before the technical time-out, but the Heat scored four straight to tie it at 15-15. MacEwan answered with a four-point run to pull ahead 19-15, and closed out the set 25-21 kills from Kinsella and Haley Gilfillan and a Heat error. The Griffins put away 10 kills and hit .243 in the set, while the Heat had 15 kills but made 12 errors for a hitting percentage of .060.

The Heat had 12 kills and hit .257 in the fourth set, and took the win 25-22. The Griffins had 15 kills and a .220 hitting percentage. There were six ties before either team had scored 10 points in the frame, but a four-point run put the home side up 11-7 for the first significant lead. At the technical time-out the Heat were up 16-14, and the Griffins kept things close by tying it a number of times after the break, at 16-16, 17-17, and 19-19 before taking a late lead at 20-19. Thanks to Aidan Lea’s two kills to close out the set, the Heat were able to take it and force a fifth set.

The UBC Okanagan Heat (14-9) and the MacEwan Griffins (8-15) will play again Saturday night in the UBC Okanagan gym. First serve is scheduled for 5 p.m., and after the match the Heat teams will have their annual Seniors Night ceremony for graduating players.

On Saturday night UBC Okanagan will honour the graduates from both the men’s and women’s volleyball teams as they play their last matches in front of their home town fans. From the women’s team Emily Oxland, Megan Festival, and Kaitlynn Given will be honoured with Alex Swiatlowski, and Grant Sonnenberg from the men’s side.

~ Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan