Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat hosted the University of Calgary Dinos for the second of two weekend matches in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium on Saturday night. The Dinos were able to avenge their five-set Friday loss, taking the Saturday night contest by a tally of 3-1. As a result, both the Heat and the Dinos now hold a conference record of 8-2, and will head into 2017 tied for third place in the Canada West standings behind Alberta (10-0) and Trinity Western (9-1).
UBC Okanagan finished ahead in nearly every statistical category on Saturday night, but were once again the victim of their own errors. Kills in the match were 57-41 in favour of the Heat, and they had the edge in hit percentage (.172 - .119), assists (51-38), and digs (73-68). The Dinos finished with better numbers in attack errors (23-29), service aces (3-2), and blocks (25-12).
Individually, the Heat's Siobhan Fitzpatrick had the best hitting night, finishing with 18 kills. Her teammates Megan Festival and Aidan Lea rounded out the Heat attack, with 10 kills apiece.
Kate Pexman was the lone Dinos hitter to finish in double digits, putting away 16 kills in the match. Laura McManes finished with the most behind her, finishing with nine. Jaylynn Moffatt also had an impressive night at the net for Calgary, finishing with 10 total blocks on top of her five kills.
The momentum of the match swung decidedly in favour of the visitors when the Dinos tied the match at 1-1, after taking a close second set, 25-23. UBC Okanagan out-hit Calgary in the frame, with 15 kills to the Dinos' 10 and a hitting percentage advantage of .175 to .129, but the home side had eight errors to Calgary's six. The difference in the set came late, with a seven-point Dinos run to come from down 15-20 to take a 22-20 lead.
The third set went to the Dinos again, 25-28, giving the Albertan visitors a 2-1 lead in the match. An early run consisting of two kills, courtesy of back-to-back kills from Laura McManes and Kate Pexman, and three consecutive Heat attack errors put the Dinos ahead at 6-4. Another four-point Calgary run later in the set gave them a 21-14 lead, effectively putting the set away for the road team. Kills late in the set from Michelle Jakszuk, Kaitlynn Given, and Megan Festival would stave off a loss temporarily, but once again late errors made the difference and set up a Kate Pexman kill to put away the Dinos 25th point.
In the fourth set the Dinos jumped out to an early lead once again, at 5-1. That lead would stay firmly in place until the UBCO side put together an exceptional seven-point run to pull within one, at 20-19. That run included four kills from Siobhan Fitzpatrick, and another from Aidan Lea. Yet another Fitzpatrick kill brought the Heat within one again, at 22-21, but Solberg, Pexman, and Moffatt scored back-to-back-to-back kills for the Dinos to close out the match.
The Heat got off to a stronger start on Saturday night than they had on Friday, taking the first set in convincing fashion, 25-16. Siobhan Fitzpatrick started the match on a roll, finishing the first set with seven of her team's 14 kills. As a team, UBCO out-hit Calgary by an impressive margin in the opening frame, putting away 14 kills to the Dinos' ten, and hitting .344 (with only three errors) while holding the visitors to .028 (with nine errors).
The UBC Okanagan Heat (8-2) and the University of Calgary Dinos (8-2) will play their next matches in the new year. The Heat will play next against the UBC Thunderbirds (7-3) in Vancouver on January 6 & 7, and the Dinos will have their next games in Kamloops, against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack (5-5) on January 5 & 6.