Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan Heat
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat defeated the University of Manitoba Bisons in three sets on Saturday night in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium. Set scores: 25-17, 25-19, 25-22.
The Heat again outhit the Bisons. UBC Okanagan finished with 44 kills (.250), and Manitoba finished with 30 (.118) on Saturday. The Heat also finished with the edge in assists (42-29), service aces (9-5), and digs (56-46).
UBC Okanagan's Siobhan Fitzpatrick led all hitters in the match, finishing with 12 kills. Megan Festival followed close behind, finishing with 10. Festival also earned three service aces in the match, and along with Emily Oxland, who had four, now has 137 just one away from the all-time Canada West service aces record. Set last season by Brandon's Shanlee McLennan. Festival now totals 131 in her career.
On the other side of the court, Manitoba's offence was led by Laura Findlay, who finished with eight kills, and Kearley Abbott and Sarah Klassen, who both finished with five.
The third set was by far the closest of the three in Saturday night's match. The Bisons saw their biggest lead of the night in the third, when they went up 16-8 after a pair of four-point runs that included two kills and two service aces, as well as four Heat errors. In a run indicative of how the night was going for Manitoba, the Heat responded with seven straight points to pull within one, down 16-15. The Bisons then went on another four-point run, and the Heat responded with a run of their own, building on spectacular serving by Emily Oxland, to tie the set at 20-20. That Oxland service run continued, as the Heat went on to score nine straight points, four of which came from service aces, taking a 24-20 lead.
The opening set stayed close until about the halfway point, when UBC Okanagan put together a four-point run on a pair of kills from Festival and Jakszuk and two errors by Josie Abbott, going up 10-6. The Bisons put together a three-point run, thanks to alternating kills from Sarah Klassen and Tori Studler, to pull within three at 19-16, but five kills by the Heat in the final seven points of the set cemented it for the home team.
A pair of four-point runs started the second set for both teams, with the Bisons going up 4-1 thanks to four consecutive Heat attack errors, and the Heat re-taking the lead 5-4 thanks to two Kearley Abbott attack errors and two more service aces by Megan Festival. The teams then alternated points, with the Bisons tying the set at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12 before the Heat finally scored consecutive points. Back-to-back kills from Aidan Lea gave UBC Okanagan a five-point lead at 20-15, and that was the difference. Kills from Kaitlynn Given and Sara McCreary closed out the set, giving the Heat the 25-19 win.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (4-0) will play their next matches on the road, travelling to play the Mount Royal Cougars on November 18 & 19. The Manitoba Bisons will play at home next weekend, hosting the University of Alberta Pandas.