SASKATOON - Led by Jade Bussard, the UBC Okanagan Heat's women's volleyball team upset the No.6-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies in four sets (24-26, 25-22, 25-22, 25-19) on Friday night as they evened up their record in the opening round of the Canada West playoffs.
Bussard, a third-year outside hitter from Red Deer, Alta., was simply unstoppable at the Physical Activity Complex as she posted 23 kills and six service aces, both marks tying Heat team records for most kills and aces in a single match.
In an opening first set, Bussard nailed back-to-back aces on the Huskies to put the Heat into the lead early. UBCO held onto that narrow advantage until a Heat serving error tied the match up and from there, the Huskies found momentum to take the opening set.
However, from that point forward, the Heat took over the game. Bussard opened the second set with a strong ace followed by a serving run for the Heat. Grasping control for a quick run, the Huskies scored five kills from Emily Koshinsky until a well-used Heat timeout resulted in back-to-back kills from Natalie Funk of Strathmore, Alta. Three swings from Sydney Grills of Vancouver, B.C., would be all the Heat would need from there to even the match at one set apiece.
UBCO took control early in the third set, bringing momentum from the previous set win, and used a four point serving streak from Funk to put them up by five points. The Heat maintained their lead and were able to close out the set when Grills nailed down a massive kill after taking a ball to the face on the previous point to help lead UBCO to a 25-22 set victory.
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After getting a ball to the face, the relentless Sydney Grills drops an OUTSTANDING kill to put the Heat to set point!����
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In the fourth and ultimately final set, the Heat opened with a big swing from Madelyn Hettinga to grab the early lead and never looked back as they cruised to their first win of the 2022 postseason.
"It was awesome," said Grills after the game. "A lot of us have never been to the playoffs. This is our first opportunity and we had a lot of fun. We used the crowds tonight, which was awesome and we came out with a win,"
Bussard was simply untouchable all night long as she hit a sparkling .525 on the night to equal the previous team kills record of 23 set by Mytre Schon back in 2011-12. Grills would go on to add 15 kills along with six digs while Abigail Dueck of Winnipeg, established a new career-high with 47 assists.
Emily Koshinsky, a fifth-year outside hitter from Jansen, Sask., led the Huskies with 16 kills and eight digs.
With the win, the Heat improve to 1-1 in the Pool C standings, now tied with the Huskies (1-1) for second in the pool. UBCO will close out Round 1 pool play on Saturday against the Manitoba Bisons (0-2) while the Huskies will clash with the No. 5 Mount Royal Cougars (2-0), with the top two teams advancing to the second round of the playoffs
The Heat and Bisons will get underway at 1 p.m. PT and the game can be seen live on CanadaWest.tv presented by Co-op.