KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat closed out the weekend sweep of the visiting Regina Cougars with a 3-1 victory on Saturday evening. The match was closely contested most of the way through, especially in the first two sets. Going into extra points to decide the first and second, the Heat were better able to pull away in the third and fourth, winning both 25-17.
The difference in Saturday night's match was consistency on offence, as the Heat were the much steadier team on the attack. Finishing well ahead in kills, hitting percentage, and assists, the well-oiled machine of the Okanagan frontcourt was in full effect.
The win puts the Heat at the top of the Canada West standings, now tied for first place with the Calgary Dinos, as both hold records of eight wins and two losses.
First Set: (27-25)
The opening set was back and forth early on, and stayed close all the way through into extra points. The Heat started out with a bang, jumping ahead to a 4-0 lead to get the match underway, and the Cougars responded with a run of their own to tie it up at 5-5, before taking their first lead of the match at 8-7. After another four-point run by the visitors, the score was 16-14 for Regina at the technical time-out.
After the break the Heat fought back to tie it up at 19-19, before pulling ahead 22-20. It was Regina with the first shot at set point, up 24-23, but kills from Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Ann Richards put the Heat up 26-25 with a chance to take it. The final point came on a mishit by the Cougars, and put the Heat up 1-0 on home court.
Second Set: (24-26)
The Heat were ahead to start the second, up 3-1, before Regina tied it up at 4-4, then 5-5, and took their first lead at 6-5. They stretched that lead to 12-9, but the Heat tied it up at 12 apiece after three straight kills from Erin Drew and Aidan Lea. Four straight in response for the Cougars put the visitors up 16-12 at the media break.
The Heat pulled within two, at 16-14, before string of great play at the net put the Cougars up 21-15. The Heat were able to erase that lead, fighting back with six straight points to tie it up at 22-22, forcing a Cougars time-out. Regina came out of the time-out and earned set point at 24-23, and again at 25-24 after a huge kill by Diana Lumbala. The visitors were able to capitalize, and tie the match up at a set apiece.
Third Set: (25-17)
A five-point run got the third started for the Cougars, as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead early on after a pair each of kills and aces. They stretched their lead to 8-2, and then 12-4. The Heat responded with a long run of their own, tying it up at 13-13 and forcing Regina to call another time-out. UBCO then took the lead back at 14-13, and rolled into the technical time-out up16-14.
The Cougars pulled even at 16 after the break, but the Heat pulled away again and went up 20-16 behind kills from Richards and Fitzpatrick. After a Cougars time-out the Heat kept rolling, winning a joust at the net and getting a kill from Aidan Lea to make it 22-16. Set point came with the Heat up 24-17 after a kill from Fitzpatrick, who finished off the set with another one off the block.
Fourth Set: (25-17)
The first half of the fourth set was back and forth, with both teams putting together runs and trading leads. A stretch of eight straight kills, five for the Heat and three for the Cougars, had the Heat taking back the lead at 12-11, and back-to-back kills from Aidan Lea had the Heat up a pair before a Regina attack error had the Heat up 16-13 at the technical time-out.
Out of the break the teams traded service errors, before Ann Richards got the offence back underway with a big kill to make it 18-15. From then on, Richards and Fitzpatrick took control, burying a pair of kills apiece in the final stretch to close out the win.
Ann Richards was at her best in the match, finishing with team-highs in kills (16) and hitting percentage (.500), and adding nine digs, an ace, and three blocks. Also finishing in double digits in kills were Aidan Lea, with 15 on .285 hitting, and Siobhan Fitzpatrick, who had 13 on .206.
Sara McCreary was steady once again, finishing with 47 assists, 10 digs, and a service ace.
U of R:
For the Cougars it was Ashlee Sandiford leading the way, finishing with 13 kills. Just behind her were Diana Lumbala and Jessica Lerminiaux, who each finished with 12.
Satomi Togawa had the team-high in assists for Regina, with 37. On the defensive side it was Kathleen Ens with a team-high three total blocks and Taylor Ungar with a high of 15 digs.
By the Numbers:
The Heat offence was the key to their success on Saturday night. Despite having seven fewer total attacks, the Heat finished ahead of the Cougars in kills, 59-48. The home team was also ahead in hitting percentage (.308 - .164) and assists (55-45).
Defensively the Heat also had the statistical edge, finishing ahead in digs (60-52) and total blocks (8-4).
The UBC Okanagan Heat (8-2) will be on the road for their next matches, travelling to take on the Calgary Dinos (8-2) on Thursday, November 30 and Friday, December 1.
The Regina Cougars (5-7) have their bye week next weekend, and so will not play again until January 5 & 6, when they'll be in Saskatoon to take on the Saskatchewan Huskies (4-6).
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information