The University of British Columbia

Heppell's strong performance not enough as No. 9 men's volleyball falls to No. 7 Calgary

UBCO's Max Heppell digs a ball during the Heat's five set loss to the Calgary Dinos to open the first round of the Canada West playoffs on Thursday (Photo Credit: David Larkins)
UBCO's Max Heppell digs a ball during the Heat's five set loss to the Calgary Dinos to open the first round of the Canada West playoffs on Thursday (Photo Credit: David Larkins)

WINNIPEG – Langley, B.C. product Max Heppell would have an impressive 22.5-point game, forcing the No. 7 Calgary Dinos to five sets, but ultimately the No. 9 UBC Okanagan Heat men's volleyball team were unable to come away with a win in their first game of the opening round of the Canada West playoffs.

The two squads would start out the first set with close scoring until the Dinos pulled away from the 4-4 tie, going on a 7-2 run. The Dinos would continue to pull away, leading by 16-9 at the technical timeout and ultimately taking the set 25-16.

The second set would be a similar story as the Dinos took the early lead and ran with it through to the end of the set. The Heat would be able to contain the U of C lead to only a few points until the Dinos would increase their lead to 16-12 at the technical timeout. From there they would pull away, gaining as much as a six-point lead and ultimately taking the set 25-18.

The third set would start out with both teams trading small leads until the Heat increased the gap to lead by as much as five points, leading 16-11 at the technical timeout thanks to a kill by Noah Carlson (Sylvan Lake, Alta.). The Heat would continue to increase the lead to up to seven points, leading 19-12. The Dinos would respond with two back-to-back points but ultimately, the Heat's momentum could not be stifled as they took the set 25-19.

The Dinos would start out the fourth set with a 3-0 lead over the Heat, but the Heat would find some momentum, bringing it to a 13-13 tie. Down 16-13 at the technical timeout, UBCO would go on an 8-1 run to put the score at 20-17 for the Heat. The Heat would maintain the lead for the remainder of the set, Carlson would lay down a kill to give the Heat the set-point, then Zach Van Geel and Teo Ardanaz would set up a block as the Heat took the set 25-22.

The Heat would take the early lead, 2-0 in the fifth set, however the Dinos would respond quickly with a five-point run to put them up 5-2. The Heat pushed back, forcing the two squads to be locked in a tie until the Dinos pulled away at 12-10. Both teams would trade back-and-forth points until U of C ultimately came out on top, 15-13.

The ever-reliable Heppell would lead the charge for the Heat, contributing 22.5 points consisting of 18 kills, three service aces, and six digs. Adding to the effort, Carlson added 15 kills and 12 digs for a total of 16.5 points.

The Dinos' effort would be led by Hamish Hazelden with a total of 23.5 points including 23 kills, and 13 digs. Lincoln Baines would also be a key player for Calgary, putting up 17 kills and four blocks for a total of 20 points.

Head head coach Brad Hudson had this to say about the team's performance:

"When we're playing at our best, we're a pretty disciplined group in terms of base systems so our block defence and some of our offensive patterning and transition. Calgary was doing a really nice job putting pressure on us, but we weren't really executing those two phases and again we're not the most physical team, so we need to play a pretty good brand of volleyball and we weren't very good at that for the first two sets."

The Heat (0-1) will be back in action in Winnipeg tomorrow afternoon for their second game of the opening round as they are set to face off with the Winnipeg Wesmen (1-0) at 4 p.m. UBCO will be facing nearly a must-win game if they are to keep their hopes alive of advancing past the first round.

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