A win on Friday is now needed after UBC Okanagan fell to the Trinity Western Spartans in five sets on Thursday night in the Saville Community Sports Centre in the Canada West women’s volleyball semi-final.
Thanks to a 3-2 victory (25-18, 22-25, 25-19, 15-25, 15-12) the Trinity Western Spartans booked a spot in the Canada West women’s volleyball gold medal match, as well as into the CIS championship tournament which runs February 26-March 1 at the University of Toronto.
For the UBC Okanagan Heat to earn their first ever Canada West medal and first ever a spot at a national championship tournament they will need to defeat the UBC Thunderbirds for Canada West bronze at 3:30 p.m. (PST) on Friday.
The win sends the Spartans into a collision course with the host U of A Pandas, who have also punched their ticket to the national championship by defeating UBC in five sets earlier Thursday evening, for Canada West gold which will be decided on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (PST).
In spite of the loss UBC Okanagan head coach Steve Manuel remained positive after the match saying only that his squad played a “poor match and almost pulled it out.”
UBC Okanagan looked to pull the match out in exciting fashion, falling down two sets to one the Heat went on an incredible run buoyed by Megan Festival at the service line, they reached the technical timeout ahead 16-1. Festival served her team from a 2-1 lead, in a run that included three of her game high four service aces, all the way into the timeout before an Elizabeth Wendel kill scored the Spartans second point of the set.
The fourth set run was the only time where the Heat were in an offensive groove hitting .368 in the 25-15 set win that sent the match into a deciding fifth set. With three of her game high 12 kills in the fourth set Canada West second star of the week Brianna Beamish hit .200 for the match.
Kaitlynn Given was the only other member of UBC Okanagan to have more than five kills, Given finished with (10) and six blocks, and Kallin Jones brought up 15 digs. First team Canada West All-Star Katy Klomps led UBC Okanagan with nine blocks, she also had five kills and spun a service ace.
The fourth set blitzkrieg didn’t carry enough momentum in the fifth set as an even start quickly saw TWU gain a 6-3 stranglehold in the deciding set after the Spartans scored three straight points, including two off UBC Okanagan attack errors forcing coach Manuel to call a timeout.
Following the timeout, the Okanagan-based school managed to draw within one point but another TWU run of three straight points, including back-to-back kills by Katelyn Devaney, put the score line at 12-9 for TWU. After some back and forth point trading, four-time Canada West all-star Alicia Perrin put the match away for good with a kill to make the final score 15-12.
Perrin finished with nine kills, the Spartans were led by Sophie Carpentier’s 14 kills, which was the match high, while Elizabeth Wendel added 13 kills and 11 digs to earn player of the match honours for TWU.
Both teams boasted strong defensive numbers throughout the season and the trend continued as both the Spartans and Heat were not sharp offensively on the night.
TWU recorded a .112 hitting percentage compared to .090 for UBC Okanagan, a season low for the Heat, but also TWU brought up 50 digs, to 39 by the Heat, and picked up an additional pair of points at the service line by scoring 12 aces to UBC Okanagan’s 10.
Trinity, ranked No. 4 in CIS and the second seed at the Canada West Final Four tournament, took advantage of the Heat’s slow start and grabbed a 25-18 opening set win.
But, the Heat returned the match to equal footing with a narrow 25-22 second set win.
UBC Okanagan really struggled in the third set hitting (-.167) and managing just five kills and making 10 errors handing Trinity a third set 25-19.
Trinity will now meet the U of A Pandas at 7:30 p.m. PST on Friday for the Canada West trophy and championship banner.
The Heat will really have to earn their first ever Canada West medal and berth in a CIS national championship as they stare down the UBC Thunderbirds on Friday at 3:30 p.m. PST in the bronze medal match.
UBC has won six of the last seven national championships, are the defending Canada West champions, and have never lost to UBC Okanagan. This year in Vancouver the Heat fell 3-1, 3-2 on October 31 and November 1, but UBC does not play well in Edmonton having lost three of five games in the Alberta capital this year. Including back to back losses to a brand new to CIS MacEwan Griffins back in October.