The University of British Columbia

RECAP: Straight sets win for 'Birds over Heat

RECAP: Straight sets win for 'Birds over Heat

VANCOUVER, BC - The reigning National Champions took care of business against the Heat as the UBC Thunderbirds captured the three-set victory on Friday night.

The home team was in control from the start as they captured the opening two frames by 25-17 and 25-19 scorelines before closing things out 25-22 in the third.

With the victory, the T-Birds (5-10) pull within two points of the Canada West playoffs with seven games remaining in the regular season. UBCO drops to 0-17 with the defeat on the road.

UBC hit nearly .300 for the match while the Heat hit just .133 on the night while the home team also finished with more digs (33-21) and service aces (7-2) in the match.

Max Heppell and Matt Aubrey had seven kills each for the Heat while Denham O'Reilly had 14 assists and eight digs on the road.

Coltyn Liu totalled 12 kills and a T-Bird team-high nine digs, Matt Neaves had 12 kills with five block assists and Jordan Deshane put up five kills with five block assists and two aces. Second-year setter Zec Johnson racked up 34 assists to go along with two aces and eight digs in the starting role.

UBC and UBCO will square off in the series finale on Saturday at War Memorial Gym with first serve slated for 6:30 p.m. PST.

First set:

Early in the opening set, Michael Dowhaniuk served an ace to tie it up at 3-3 and his first kill of the match made it 12-9. Johnson fired back-to-back aces and Neaves came up with a big block for a 17-10 advantage. Shawn Zhao's first kill of the match for the Heat made it a four-point deficit at 21-17 T-Birds, but the home team held steady for a 25-17 set victory.

Second set:

The second set got off to a rocky start with a series of errors from both sides of the net, and the two teams were even at 13-13. A UBCO ball-handling error put the home team up 14-13 and Liu's seventh kill added to the lead. Deshane's second ace gave the Thunderbirds a brief four-point edge, but the Heat came back to tie it on a Teo Ardanaz - Cam Vanderveen combination block at 17-17, prompting a T-Bird timeout. UBC stormed out to a 6-1 run after the break, and Joel Regehr won it on his first ace, 25-19.

Third set:

UBC jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the third and led 16-10 at the technical timeout. The Heat continued to battle and Heppell made it a five-point game with an ace at 21-16 UBC. Hunter Scott knocked down a kill on the next play for UBCO. The Heat clawed to within two after a string of Thunderbird errors made it 22-20, and were within one at 23-22 after a crucial Aubrey-Zhao block. Dowhaniuk responded with a kill for UBC's first match point that he closed out on his sixth kill - 25-22.

~ Oliver Rizun with notes from Aneesa Heatherington UBC Communications