The No. 3 UBC Okanagan Heat appeared to be on their way to splitting their third Canada West series of the season, up 8-3 in the fifth set on the UBC Thunderbirds women’s volleyball team.
But victory was snatched away as UBC scored 12 or the next 15 points to take the match in five exciting sets at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver on Saturday.
Set scores: 25-23, 23-25, 25-15, 20-25 and 15-11
The early lead in the fifth set was built on the strength of UBC Okanagan’s front line as Erin Drew, making her first career CIS start, was instrumental in pushing her team ahead early, as she provided a solo block, a service ace and a kill as part of the 8-3 run. Katie Wuttunee, the other starting middle, also had two blocks early in the fifth set.
UBC Okanagan finished with 15 blocks a third of those in the fifth set, compared to 11 for UBC. Wuttunee finished the match with three blocks, Drew with six, Katy Klomps who currently is fourth in the conference in blocks (37) did not dress due on Saturday night.
Offensively Brianna Beamish is continuing a strong fourth year, the outside hitter from Surrey, BC had one of her best performances on the year. Her 18 kills was a game high and her .302 conversion rate was her high mark of the year to date. Megan Festival had 11 kills and 10 digs, while Katie Wuttunee finished with 10 kills.
UBC Okanagan extended the match by winning a dramatic fourth set. With a score tied 17-17, the Heat managed to capture eight of the next 12 points in order to take the match into a fifth-and-deciding set, led by their offensive powerhouse Beamish. The Heat won four straight points on her serve and then Megan Festival provided a big kill to put the Heat up 22-18 and then knocked down another to clinch the set for the visitors.
The third set was forgettable for UBC Okanagan as they managed just six kills and committed six attack errors to fall 25-15.
Sets one and two were mirrors of one another, in the first set UBC powered through the early parts of the opening set, taking a 16-7 lead when Beamish led the Heat comeback striking five kills to bring her team to within one point at 22-23, but the T-Birds got their final two points on service errors.
The tables turned in the second set, however, as the Heat came out blazing to even things up. UBC Okanagan pulled ahead to a 17-10 lead before T-Birds proceeded to win eight of the next nine points to tie the teams at 18 apiece. Lisa Barclay put UBC ahead 23-22 but the Heat won the final three points, on kills from Festival and Katie Wuttunee and a UBC service error, to win the second set.
Despite being injured early in the fifth set, Barclay led her team with 15 kills, one block and one ace. Danielle Brisebois had 12 kills for the ‘Birds.
With the loss UBC Okanagan have been swept for the first time this year and see their record fall to 4-4. UBC is now 5-3 on the season.
In spite of the weekend’s results coach Steve Manuel is confident his team will rebound answering quickly post match saying “all is positive. We are 4-4 having played the best in Canada. Now we regroup and take care of business these next four weeks.”
“We are still getting better with every match,” Manuel finishes and point out that the first four teams the heat have played have been: twice the top-ranked team in the country (Alberta, TWU), the defending national champions (Manitoba), and the national silver medalists who were also the most recent Canada West champions and winners of six of the last seven national championships (UBC).
Both UBC teams will travel to Winnipeg next weekend. The Thunderbirds will face the University of Manitoba Bisons while the Heat will battle the University of Winnipeg Wesmen.
UBC Okanagan’s match on Friday, November 7 will commence at 4 p.m. PT and a live stream will be available at canadawest.tv.
The UBC Okanagan Heat were swept away in straight sets by the streaking UBC Thunderbirds men’s volleyball team on Saturday night at War Memorial Gymnasium.
The (25-23, 26-24, 25-20) win was UBC’s fifth in a row and second straight versus UBC Okanagan, whose record drops to 0-8. During their five-game tear, the No. 5 T-Birds have won 15 of the team’s past 20 sets and have only lost to MacEwan University so far in conference play.
Jim Bell, still getting his timing down as a leftside, led the team for the sixth time this season in kills with 10, he was tied for the team lead with four blocks as well. Josh Harvey also contributed four blocks while Alex Swiatlowski went for nine kills.
Irvan Brar gave the Heat the fits in the match for the T-Birds, recording 15 kills, which led all players Saturday.
UBC Okanagan lost both sets one and two by just two points and had momentum late in both sets yet were unable to put away the streaking Vancouver team.
Greg Poitras doesn’t have a Madison Bumgarner on his roster to close out sets like the lefty closed out the rest of Major League Baseball to lead the San Frisco Giants to a World Series Championship, and explained that his team needs to keep learning and playing under control to win those winnable sets.
“We haven’t been in a lot of sets close like that this year,” explains Poitras, “we just couldn’t make the last few plays, and we let the pressure get to us and lost control.”
With the 5-1 Winnipeg Wesmen up next things won’t get easier for the Heat but coach Poitras will have his team ready as they remain positive.
“We will need a good week at practice and take a few more steps forward,” says the coach, now in his tenth season leading the men’s volleyball team at UBC Okanagan. “We still have lots of room for improvement…the guys are up for the challenge.”
The first set Josh Harvey blocked Chris Howe to go up 23-22, UBC Okanagan’s their first lead since 5-4. The late lead didn’t hold as UBC subbed in rookie setter Byron Keturakis and led the service game over the final three points, vaulting the ‘Birds to the first-set victory.
The second set saw the Heat take a 12-11 after a Poitras timeout and two huge serves by UBC Okanagan’s outside hitter Lars Bornemann, the one-point edge would hold for the next eight points.
The Thunderbirds resiliency prevailed, however, as the T-Birds won the second set by a two-point margin for the second set in a row. The Heat had the home team on the ropes with the majority of the set spent in the lead, but never had more than a two-point edge, as UBC stuck around.
Similar trends continued into the third and final set, as the T-Birds couldn’t shake the Heat by a sizeable margin.
Jeremy Fostvelt had a key dig for the Heat a few points later helping the Heat tie the set up at 17-17 but from there on in, the Thunderbirds went on cruise control winning the third set 25-20. UBC Okanagan allowed the ‘Birds to convert 60-percent (14 kills, 20 attacks, just 2 errors) of their attacks in the third, that efficiency was too much for UBC Okanagan to overcome.
Looking ahead for UBC, the Thunderbirds hit the road for a weekend series against the University of Manitoba Bisons in a week’s time. The Bisons are nipping at the heels of the Thunderbirds with a 5-3 record and sit four points behind UBC.
UBC Okanagan’s matches in Winnipeg will be at 5:30 p.m. PT on Friday, November 7th and then a matinee at 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday, November 8th.