Heat women blank Wolfpack in Canada West opener
The first kill of the game off the Kaitlynn Given (2nd year, Kelowna, BC) attack proved to be a sign of things to come in the Heat's 2013-2014 Canada West season-opener, as the second-year outside-hitter would have her way with the host WolfPack to the tune of 19 kills in a straight set Heat victory 3-0 (25-16, 25-11, 25-23).
Replacing the graduated Alex Basso, Given quickly put to rest any questions surrounding the Heat and their ability to fill the role left by the departed Basso. She was both powerful and efficient in dismantling the 'Pack, with her 19 kills coming from only 28 attempts. A benefactor of an off-season of training with the Team BC u20 team, expectations were large surrounding Given heading into the season, but it's safe to say she is well on her way to exceeding those expectations.
It was a game in which the Heat had their way with the WolfPack for almost the entirety of the match. The Heat would jump out to a quick 16-11 lead in the first set behind six kills between Katy Klomps (3rd year, Surrey, BC) and Given, and would coast to the 25-16. The second set was much the same, with Given rattling off six kills over a nine-point stretch in the early portion to give the Heat a comfortable 13-5 lead. They would win the set convincingly 25-11, and Given would end the third and final set in fitting fashion with a kill.
"We controlled the game for the most part," said Heat setter Emily Oxland (2nd year, North Vancouver, BC) following the game. "We got the first game jitters out and saw some great things from a lot of people tonight, especially Kaitlynn."
Other notable performances were that of Megan Festival (2nd year, Calgary, AB) and Chandler Proch (3rd year, Kelowna, BC). Festival would add 9 kills to compliment Given's offense, while Proch would come on in late relief of Oxland to collect 3 assists in her first Canada West game since undergoing back surgery prior to last season.
With the win, the Heat open the season with a record of 1-0 and prove just why they are ranked fourth in the nation. Meanwhile, the WolfPack open the season with a record of 0-1.
Both teams will complete the home-and-home season-opening series Saturday evening in Kelowna, BC, with the Heat hosting the 'Pack at UBC's Okanagan campus Gymnasium. Service is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Eighteen kills by the Wolf Pack’s Brad Gunter (3rd year, Courtenay, BC) played spoiler to the Heat’s season-opener, as Thompson Rivers University defeated the Heat in straight sets Friday night in Kelowna, 3-0 (25-23, 25-20, 25-22).
"Our inexperience showed tonight," commented Heat assistant coach Kyle Joslin. "Each one of their players made one more play than we did, and that made the difference."
All three sets played very closely in the early portions, but the WolfPack were able to take advantage of Heat errors in the latter portions to secure set wins. Colin Carson (5th year, Prince George, BC) was extremely effective in distributing the ball from the setter position, collecting 36 assists behind the kills of Gunter, who sharpened his skills this past summer on the junior national team, and an additional 8 from Philip Ozari (2nd year, Denmark).
"Obviously it wasn't the result we wanted, but I think everyone came out and played well," added Heat rookie and player of the game Lars Bornemann (Outside hitter, Victoria, BC). "TRU had a great game and they pushed us hard."
On the UBC Okanagan side, Nate Speijer (5th year, Penticton, BC) led all Heat hitters with 15 kills, while Bornemann, Joshua Harvey (2nd year, Cochrane, AB), and Kyle Pankratz (3rd year, Surrey, BC) all tallied 5 kills of their own in the season-opening spoiler.
With the win, Thompson Rivers begins the season 1-0, while the Heat begin 0-1. Both teams will complete the home-and-home season-opening series at Tournament Capitol Centre in Kamloops on Saturday night, with service set for 7 p.m.