Cougars fall victim to strong UBC Okanagan attack in three-set loss to Heat

Cougars fall victim to strong UBC Okanagan attack in three-set loss to Heat

(By University of Regina Sports Information)

REGINA, Sask. – No. 5 UBC Okanagan hit .337 as a team and the Heat won their second three-set match in as many nights over the Regina Cougars on Saturday at the Centre for Kinesiology, Health & Sport.

The Heat won by scores of 25-23, 25-18, and 25-22 as they improve their Canada West record to 7-1 on the season.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick didn't play on Friday, but got the start for UBC Okanagan on Saturday and led all players with 14 kills while also tying for the team lead with nine digs. Kaitlynn Given had 10 kills and hit .643 for the Heat, while Aidan Lea came off the bench to collect eight kills and a .583 hitting percentage. Michelle Jakszuk added eight kills and nine digs. Emily Oxland and Sara McCreary shared the setting duties for the Heat, with Oxland finishing with 26 assists and McCreary dishing out eight.

Ashlee Sandiford led the Cougars with eight kills and also helped out defensively with eight digs, while Leah Sywanyk got the start and not only had five kills and no errors for a team-leading .333 hitting percentage, but also collected a match-high five service aces. Molly Wade-Cummings had seven kills and four blocks, while libero Taylor Ungar led all players with 12 digs. Rookie setter Kirstin Greve finished with 26 assists for the U of R.

After opening up Friday's match with convincing wins in the opening two sets, it looked as though Saturday would follow the same script for UBC Okanagan as the Heat scored the first seven points of the first set and led by as many as 10 points after going up 12-2. But the Cougars battled back, going on a 10-3 run of their own to force a Heat timeout. They kept it close and four straight U of R points brought it level at 22-22 and the Cougars again tied it up at 23-23, but UBC Okanagan went ahead on a Regina service error and clinched the first set with a block by Given and Brooklyn Reynolds.

The second saw the teams trade leads midway through the set, but Erin Drew came in as a serving sub and the Heat broke an 18-18 tie with seven straight points, five of which came off Fitzpatrick kills.

In the third, the two teams were within two points for almost the entirety of the set with the exception of a four-point lead for UBC Okanagan around the media timeout. The Cougars fought back with five straight points to take the lead, but fell behind after a quick 4-1 run that forced a timeout by head coach Shane Smith. Consecutive kills by Kathleen Bruce and Sandiford brought the score even for the 11th time in the set at 22-22, but that's when Jakszuk went to work for the Heat. She registered back-to-back-to-back kills, giving UBC Okanagan a 25-22 match-clinching win.

The Cougars are back in action next weekend at Alberta, while UBC Okanagan will host Calgary as both teams close out the first half of the Canada West schedule.