Grayson Leahy & Oliver Rizun, UBC Okanagan
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat women's volleyball team played their final match of the Canada West regular season on Saturday night in Kelowna, earning a three-set victory against the MacEwan Griffins. Set scores were 25-11, 25-23, 25-23.
With the win the Heat finish the Canada West season with a record of 15-9, securing the fifth seed, and will play their next matches of the postseason on March 3-5 when they travel to take on the 18-6 University of Calgary Dinos. the fourth seed, in a best-of-three Canada West quarter-finals.
Game one is scheduled for Friday night at 6 p.m., game two will be on Saturday at 6 p.m. and game three, if neccessary, is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. All times are Calgary local time (MST).
It was UBCO's annual Senior Night, as graduating student-athletes Emily Oxland, Kaitlynn Given, and Megan Festival were honoured after the match.
UBC Okanagan finished with 49 kills and a .293 hitting percentage, and held MacEwan to 30 kills and a hitting percentage of .137. The Heat also had the advantage in assists (47-28), service aces (7-3), digs (61-47) and total blocks (4-3).
Kaitlynn Given ended her Heat regular season career with a match-high 13 kills on .312 hitting, and added nine digs. Megan Festival, Aidan Lea, and Siobhan Fitpatrick all contributed for Heat with nine kills apiece, and Festival also led the match with three service aces. Emily Oxland had a match-high 36 assists, and a match-high 16 digs.
Cassidy Kinsella once again led the Griffins, with a team-high 11 kills. Claire McLoughlin led MacEwan in assists, with 19, and Kate Rozendaal had a team-high nine digs.
The Heat came out swinging in the opening set, winning it in fashion by a score of 25-11. They had 15 kills on a .345 hitting percentage and held the Griffins to (6) on .065 hitting. The home side jumped out to a 3-0 lead to start, and never relinquished it. Not once were MacEwan able to string together more than two consecutive points, and at the technical time-out UBCO had a 16-7 lead. Two of the final three Heat points were provided by kills from Aidan Lea, before the Griffins' fourth attacking error ended the frame.
The second set was far closer than the first, and at the technical time-out the Heat were up just a point at 16-15. As in the first set the Heat had the statistical advantage in the second, putting away 18 kills on .283 hitting to the Griffins' 12 on a hitting percentage of .146. The Okanagan side started out strong, scoring eight of nine points to jump ahead 9-3 before the Griffins went on a four-point run to make it 9-7. The first MacEwan lead of the match came when they scored three straight to pull ahead 14-13, but attack errors gave the Heat back the lead at the break. The Griffins were able to stave off set points twice to pull within one at 24-23, but Kaitlynn Given buried an impressive kill to give the Heat the set win and the 2-0 lead in the match.
MacEwan had their strongest start in the third set, jumping out to a 7-3 lead, bolstered by three kills from star hitter Cassidy Kinsella. Kills from Megan Festival and Aidan Lea paired with a errors by the Griffins brought the Heat even at 9-9. UBCO took their first lead of the set at 12-11 after another Festival kill and a service ace by Erin Drew.
At the technical time-out the home side held a 16-14 lead. A four-point run consisting of four straight kills by Kaitlynn Given then put the Heat up 21-17, quickly followed by a huge block by Given and Drew to make it 22-19. Drew then scored a service ace, before UBCO earned match point at 24-22 on a Festival kill and Lea killed the final point to end the Heat's regular season with a 3-0 victory.
The MacEwan Griffins finish their season with a record of 8-16, 10th in the Canada West standings, and will miss the playoffs.