UBCO punches ticket to U SPORTS national championship

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File photos for UBC Okanagan Heat athletics

Kelowna, B.C. – In their final home game of the season, the Heat women’s volleyball team did not disappoint as they won in four sets against the Manitoba Bisons to advance to the Canada West semifinals. A tense and exciting match with a jam-packed UBC Okanagan gym on Saturday in Kelowna followed a win on Friday night in the first of a best-of-three series, the Heat had a chance to close out the Bisons.

The win also earns the team a spot in the U SPORTS National Championship which starts March 16th in Laval, Quebec. After the teams split the opening two sets, the Heat would take control of the match in the third with a comfortable 25-16 victory. With nationals in their sights, the team would pull away in the final set to take home the victory.

This is the fifth straight season the UBCO women’s volleyball team has advanced past the first round in the Canada West postseason. Normally they would go on to the Final Four, but this year with the new playoff format the Heat will travel to Vancouver to play the T-Birds in the CW semi-finals (Mar. 2-4).

First set: (25-19)

It would be a closely contested first set, with the Heat holding a very narrow 16-15 lead at the technical timeout following an Ann Richards service ace. A big Michelle Jakszuk block would extend the lead out to 23-19, and just two points later the Heat would put away the first set thanks to an Erin Drew and Ann Richards block. Siobhan Fitzpatrick would lead all attackers in the frame with five kills, along with five digs. The Heat would hit .195 as a team compared to just .024 for the visiting Bisons in the set.

Second set: (16-25)

The Bisons would show some resolve in the second, as they would go on a 10-1 run in the middle portion of the frame to take complete control at 18-10. This deficit would be too much to overcome for the home team, as the Bisons prevailed 25-16 in the frame. The offense for the Bisons found its rhythm in the second, as they hit .400 thanks to 17 kills and on 30 attempts. U of M’s  Josie Abbott was the difference maker in the second set with six kills on seven swings.

Third set: (25-16)

It would be a close beginning to the third set, but the Heat would turn a one-point lead at 10-9 into a five-point lead heading into the technical timeout (16-11). This five-point lead would be more than enough to win the set, as they take a one-set advantage following the 25-16 win. It was the strongest offensive set of the match for the home team, as they had 15 kills in the set compared to just five hitting errors.

Fourth set: (25-20)

It was a highly competitive final set in the Furnace, as neither team could gain much of an advantage going into the technical timeout with the Heat holding a slim one-point lead (16-15). Coming out of the timeout the Heat seized hold of the match, scoring four of the next five points to gain a 20-16 lead. The visitors would cut the deficit to just one at 21-20 but the Heat finished strong, scoring the last four points including a huge Ann Richards kill on match point.

Individual performances:

UBC Okanagan:

  • Fourth year outside hitter Siobhan Fitzpatrick would lead the way for the Heat, finishing with a game-high 15 kills and had 12 digs on the night for a double-double.
  • Both Aidan Lea and Ann Richards would also finish in double figures in the match, as they had 10 kills each.
  • Michelle Jakszuk finished just shy of a double-double on the night, as she tallied nine kills along with a game-high 16 digs.

Manitoba:

  • Three different Bisons players would finish in double figures in kills with Jocelyn Koswin leading the way with 12 on the night.
  • Josie Abbott was not far behind with 11 put downs in the match and her sister Kearley would finish 10 kills along with a team-high 14 digs.
  • Setter Brittany Habing would telly 35 assists on the night and had eight digs for the visitors as well.

Inside the numbers:

  • The Heat would hold the advantage in all key categories on the night as they had more kills (50-48), hitting percentage (.229-.161), digs (63-62), total blocks (11-5) and service aces (9-4).

What’s next:

  • The Heat will advance to play the defending U SPORTS National Champion UBC Thunderbirds in Vancouver starting next Friday March 2nd at 6 p.m. PST.

~ Oliver Rizun, Heat sports information

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