Heat women close in on playoff spot

Jill Festival was named the Heat player of the game Saturday with 20 kills, as UBCO swept a pair of Canada West volleyball matches from the University of Calgary.  - Dale Abbey/Heat Athletics
Jill Festival was named the Heat player of the game Saturday with 20 kills, as UBCO swept a pair of Canada West volleyball matches from the University of Calgary.
— image credit: Dale Abbey/Heat Athletics

A pair of nail-biting five-game sweeps has pushed the UBC Okanagan Heat yet another step closer to securing a Canada West post-season berth.

The Heat women's volleyball squad needed every set on both nights at the UBC Okanagan gym to take both ends of a weekend series from the University of Calgary Dinos.

On Friday in Kelowna, the Heat fell behind early, then outlasted the Dinos in five sets (20-25, 13-15, 25-15, 27-25, 18-16), winning the final game in dramatic fashion.

Brianna Beamish went into the lineup in the second set to ignite the Heat, and finished the match with 14 kills and 13 digs.

“Brianna has such a lively right arm,” said Heat coach Steve Manuel. “She has the ability to dominate a match instantly, and she really pulled us through those middle sets."

Jill Festival, making her first start since September due to an ankle injury, also had a strong match with 10 kills and 11 digs.

On Saturday, the teams went five sets again—and again the Heat emerged victorious (26-24, 25-15, 17-25, 21-25, 15-13).

Player of the game Jill Festival had 20 kills, while setter Emily Oxland coordinated the offense for the Heat to the tune of 61 assists.

"To win two in Regina the week before, then go back-to-back against Calgary was huge for us," Manuel added.

The Heat, now 11-5, leads Calgary and Manitoba, both 7-9, by four games for fifth spot. Seven teams will make the post-season.

will be put to the test when they visit the No. 1-ranked UBC Thunderbirds (15-1) for two matches this weekend.

Heat men

The UBCO men came up short at home, losing both Canada West matches to the U of Calgary Dinos.

In a close match on Friday, the Heat fell 3-2 (25-19, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 15-09).

Fourth-year outside hitter Riley McFarland provided the majority of the offense once again on this night, connecting on 24 kills, as the Heat continue to rely on his offensive services.

On Saturday, UBCO went down in straight sets to the Dinos (25-16, 25-18, 26-24).

High-flying middle Brett Uniat was named the Heat's player of the game after contributing a team-high tying nine kills and three block assists.

The Heat (2-14) return home this weekend to take on the UBC Thunderbirds Friday and Saturday nights at the Kelowna campus.



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