Grayson Leahy, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - For the first time in eight matches between the UBC Okanagan Heat and Trinity Western Spartans the contest did not go a full five sets. The Spartans staved off the Heat bid to split the weekend on Saturday night, and earned a 3-1 win with a strong performance in the clinching set.
Set scores were 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, and 25-16.
The fourth was close early, with four ties in the first ten points. A three-point run by the Spartans to go up 7-5 was the turning point in the set, as from that point on they never gave up the lead. Only allowing the Heat to score consecutive points twice from then on, Trinity Western went up 16-10 at the technical time-out and put together a four-point run to close out the set 25-16 and take the match 3-1.
The Heat finished the match with more kills (54-49), but the Spartans' consistency was what won them the night. Hitting percentages were .235 to .210 in favour of the visitors, and UBCO committed 25 attacking errors to Trinity's 18. TWU also had a better night from their middles, finishing with 15 total blocks while the home side had just four.
Sophie Carpentier once again led the Spartan attack, putting up a match-high 22 kills. Katelyn Devaney, Elizabeth Wendel, and Ashtyn McKenzie were dominant at the net, finishing with eight, seven, and seven total blocks respectively.
The Heat hitters were led by Kaitlynn Given, Michelle Jakszuk, and Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who finished with 16, 15, and 14 kills. Megan Festival, having recently been switched to the libero position, led UBCO with 17 digs.
Both teams came out firing in the first set, with the Spartans putting down 13 kills on .222 hitting and the Heat earning 12 on .139. The set was back and forth throughout, with neither team able to stretch a lead beyond three points until the very end, when Trinity strung together three straight to earn set point at 24-20. Katelyn Devaney hammered a kill straight down past the Heat blockers for the final point, giving the Spartans a 25-21 set win.
The second set saw the Heat take a much larger lead, going up 16-8 at the technical time-out and by double digits shortly after, 19-9. A seven-point run by Trinity Western made the score 19-15, but the teams traded points from then on and the Heat took the set 25-19. The hitting for UBC Okanagan was the difference maker in the frame, as they put away 15 kills on .323 hitting to the Spartans' eight and .125.
The third set started as close as the first, with six ties before the technical time-out. At the break the Heat were up 16-11 after four kills in seven points. The Spartans came out of the time-out on a mission and put together an eight-point run to jump ahead 19-16. The Heat responded with a run of their own, stringing together four straight points to re-take the lead, 20-19. After four more ties and three lead changes, the visitors managed to score back-to-back points twice in the final points, primarily thanks to Heat attacking errors, to take the set 25-23.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (10-6) have a bye week next weekend, and will play their next matches on February 3 & 4 when the University of Saskatchewan Huskies (5-9) come to Kelowna. The Trinity Western Spartans (15-1) will have their next matches on January 27 & 28 when they travel to the University of Alberta to take on the number one Pandas (14-0).