As valued as Emily Oxland’s and Megan Festival’s serves are to their UBC Okanagan teammates, they are equally dreaded by their Canada West opponents.
The two fifth-year players were once again dialed in from the service line, delivering a combined 14 aces over two matches to lead the hometown Heat to a weekend sweep of the University of Manitoba Bisons.
The No. 2-ranked Heat are now 4-0 to start the 2016-17 campaign.
With 137 aces, Oxland is just one shy of the Canada West all-time service ace record. Festival, with 131, is close behind.
Heat head coach Steve Manuel said while their style and serve velocity differ slightly, Oxland and Festival both possess pinpoint accuracy and can move the ball around to any location on the court.
In addition to racking up key points during the course of a match, Manuel said the often devastating serving of Oxland and Festival can change the entire complexion of a match.
“It’s not just the points they score on aces, it’s the other serves that they make that when they’re on, it gives the other team passing fits,”said Manuel.
“That gives you an immediate advantage and you’re able to score even more.
“Our team has sheer confidence in them when they step to the line and that energizes everybody,” he added. “They can change the momentum in games, and that’s huge for us.”
On Friday, Oxland had three aces and 44 assists in a four-set Heat win (25-23, 23-25, 25-20, and 25-22).
Siobhan Fitzpatrick was the most dominant hitter for UBC Okanagan, scoring 18 kills in the match. Megan Festival put away 13 kills and made 15 digs.
On Saturday, Oxland served up four aces and added 23 assists as the unbeaten Heat swept to a 3-0 decision (25-17, 25-19, 25-22.)
Festival had three services aces to go along with 10 kills. Fitzpatrick again led all hitters in the match, finishing with 12 kills.
As for his team’s sweep of Manitoba and a 4-0 start, Manuel said all is going according to plan so far in 2016-17.
“I thought after a week off we were a little rusty in Friday’s match and didn’t play our best ball, but we showed a lot of character in getting the win,” said Manuel.
“We were better on Saturday, so hopefully we’ll see more of that kind of volleyball to come.”
The Heat will be on the road this coming weekend, travelling to Calgary for matches against the Mount Royal Cougars on Friday and Saturday.
The UBCO men pushed the Bisons in both matches, but came up empty against Manitoba at the Kelowna campus gym.
The No. 6 Bisons won in a sweep on Friday, 25-21, 25-22, and 25-23.
Lars Bornemann led the Heat attack, finishing the night with 12 kills and a pair of service aces.
On Saturday, UBCO took the second set but ultimately went down to defeat 3-1 (25-21, 16-25, 25-20, and 25-22).
Bornemann once again led the Heat with 16 kills.
The UBCO men (1-3) will next head to Calgary this weekend to face the Mount Royal Cougars for Canada West matches on Friday and Saturday.