Zenan Sherbaniuk, Dinos Communications
CALGARY – The University of Calgary Dinos women's volleyball team saw its season come to an end Sunday afternoon, falling in four sets (22-25, 22-25, 30-28, 24-26) to the UBC Okanagan Heat at the Jack Simpson Gymnasium.
After a thrilling five set match last night, with UBC Okanagan tying the series up, Sunday turned into a "win and you're in" for next week's Final Four in Edmonton.
The first set saw plenty of streaky play, as both teams recorded lengthy runs on multiple occasions. UBC Okanagan took a 16-12 lead into the technical timeout and kept the Dinos far enough behind to grab the opening set 25-22.
Aiden Lea continued her impressive play, recording six kills in the first set to lead all players, after finishing with 19 last night. As a team, the Heat finished with 17 kills compared to the Dinos' 12.
The second set started out closer before the Dinos were able to gain a little breathing room with a five point lead. UBC Okanagan fought back, forcing a Calgary timeout with the score 14-12 Dinos.
Jaylynn Moffatt took the Dinos into the technical timeout with a 16-13 lead, with a kill up the middle.
UBC Okanagan grabbed their first lead since the beginning of the set at 20-19, on the back of a 6-2 run. After the score was tied three more times, the Heat rallied off three straight points to take the second set 25-22.
The Heat recorded 14 more kills, giving them 31 in the match, compared to just 22 for the Dinos.
The match continued with a set eerily similar to the second – neither team was able to distance themselves from the other. The Dinos took another 16-13 lead into the technical timeout, this time off a Brianna Solberg kill but once again the Heat rallied and retook a lead at 21-20.
Unlike the previous set however, extra points were needed and the Dinos grabbed a thrilling 30-28 win to extend the match. Kate Pexman kept Calgary's season alive, finishing the lengthy set with her tenth kill.
The third saw seven lead changes and was tied 14 different times in what turned out to be the longest set of the series.
The teams kept it close to start the fourth, but Calgary was forced to burn an early timeout when they fell behind 6-3. It remained tight right to the technical timeout, with the Dinos sporting a small 16-14 lead.
The Heat tied the set up at 19 and grabbed the lead on the next point, forcing Calgary to use its last timeout. UBC Okanagan extended that differential to three, but the Dinos stormed back and tied it up at 23.
Extra points were needed again but it was the Heat, with a couple of Megan Festival kills, who closed the match out this time, taking the game and the series in the process.
UBC Okanagan outhit Calgary by a large margin, as they finished with 65 kills compared the Dinos' 44. Four Heat players recorded double digit kills, with Kaitlynn Given, Aidan Lea, and Michelle Jakscuk all logging 16.
Kate Pexman and Hannah Tanasichuk, who finished with 14 and ten kills, respectively, led Calgary's attack.
Head Coach Natalie Gurnsey had nothing but encouragement following the tough loss.
"The girls showed a ton of guts and fight. We saw it last night, winning 29-27 in overtime, and we did it again today," Gurnsey remarked. "We never stopped battling no matter how hard it was or how much push back UBC O gave us. That is a really positive thing going forward into next season."
As for the outlook of the program, she stated the importance that losses like these will have on the team going forward.
"We are a young group still and we're returning everybody. It is a positive to have these experiences together and will only make us a better team."
With the win, UBC Okanagan moves on to play in the Canada West Final Four, starting this Friday in Edmonton.