CALGARY, AB – The UBC Okanagan Heat prevailed in five sets in an exciting win-or-go-home scenario against the hometown Calgary Dinos on Saturday night.
With the win, the Heat women’s volleyball team push the Dinos to a rubber match of the best-of-three Canada West quarter-final series on Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. PST in the Jack Simpson Gymnasium in Calgary. The winner will advance to the Canada West Final Four next weekend in Edmonton.
Second year middle Aidan Lea proved to be the difference-maker as she finished with a career-high 19 kills on an efficient .457 hitting percentage, as well as a game-high 10 total blocks, and three aces for a UBC Okanagan season high of 28.5 points. UBC Okanagan’s other starting middle was also at her best in the pivotal match as fourth year Erin Drew finished with a career-high 11 kills for the Heat.
Execution from the service line would win the game for the Heat, as back-to-back Emily Oxland aces gave the Heat match point in the final set after the game was tied 12-12. After a Dinos kill, head coach Steve Manuel iced first-year server Hannah Tanasichuk who then put the serve long, closing out the Heat victory in an intense match with the final set finishing 15-13.
For the match UBC Okanagan blitzed Calgary from the service line as they finished with 15 service aces compared to just six for Calgary.
Senior outside hitter and Kelowna native Kaitlynn Given led the team with four aces and was second for UBCO with 14 kills, and added nine digs and six total blocks.
After the Heat trailed at the technical timeout in the first set 16-13, the visitors went on a 6-1 run to take the lead at 19-17. After a huge Aidan Lea solo block gave the Heat a 22-18 lead, UBCO would finish off the first set 25-20 on an Erin Drew kill. Although the Heat had six fewer kills in the first set (10-16) they had six fewer attack errors (2-8) and hit a better percentage (.216-.200).
After a slow start in the second set for the Heat, a 7-1 run gave them the lead at 14-12 and forced a Calgary timeout. After a 16-13 lead at the technical timeout, the Dinos would fight their way back to tie the game up at 21 apiece. An Emily Oxland ace gave the visitors a 24-22 lead, but the Heat were not able to convert on the two set points that followed. With the game tied at 27-27, back-to-back attack errors by UBCO capped off the Dinos’ win, 29-27.
At the technical timeout in the third set the Heat were leading 16-15, and would increase their lead to 19-15 after a quick 3-0 run after the timeout. After the Dinos cut the lead to just two at 23-21, an Aidan Lea kill gave UBCO set point and a Calgary attack error would end the third set with the Heat prevailing 25-21.
With the Heat trailing early in the fourth, a 6-0 run gave them the lead and command of the match with the score 13-9. The lead was cut to only two at the technical timeout, at 16-14. With the lead at 22-18, the Dinos scored two quick points and forced a UBCO timeout. Aidan Lea gave the Heat match point with a huge kill on an assist from Emily Oxland, but back-to-back kills from Jaylynn Moffatt and Brianna Solberg tied the game up at 24-24. Kate Pexman would then come up clutch for the Dinos as she had three straight kills to win the third set 28-26 for the Dinos.
The Dinos were led by Kate Pexman once again, who finished with team-highs in kills and digs with 18 of each. First year outside hitter Hannah Tanasichuk impressed as well, finishing with 17 kills for the home squad.
The two teams finished with the exact same hitting percentage (.189), and the Dinos finished with one more kill (60-59).
The Sunday winner will be the final entry in the Final Four. Alberta as top seed and host are already in while UBC, and Trinity Western both have finished off their quarter-final matchups and have already advanced.
Watch the match live on canadawest.tv Sunday afternoon.
HEAT NOTES: Outside hitter Siobhan Fitzpatrick landed on the side of her ankle and missed all but a handful of plays in the Saturday match.
~ Oliver Rizun, UBC Okanagan