The University of British Columbia

MOVING ON: Women's volleyball advances to second round after five-set win over Bisons

Sydney Grills and Abigail Dueck celebrate a point during the UBCO Heat's win over the Saskatchewan Huskies on March 4, 2022.
(Photo Credit: Huskie Athletics/GetMyPhoto.ca)

SASKATOON - Sydney Grills, Jade Bussard and Abigail Dueck each set UBC Okanagan women's volleyball program records as the Heat blasted past the Manitoba Bisons in five sets (24-26, 26-24, 18-25, 25-12, 15-6) on Saturday afternoon to advance to the second round of the 2022 Canada West playoffs.

Sydney Grills smashed home 24 kills in what was a must-win game for the Heat if they hoped to advance out of Pool C in the opening round. To go along with her kills record, the Vancouver product did not make an attack error on 42 attempts, hitting a wildly-efficient .571. This marks the first time a Heat athlete has ever hit above a .550 hitting percentage with a minimum of 15 attacks in a single game.

Across the court Jade Bussard had herself an equally impressive performance. The outside hitter from Red Deer, Alta., nailed 24 kills, which puts herself and Grills alone atop of the UBCO kills leaderboard. Bussard, who was coming off a 29.5 point performance the previous night against the No. 6-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies with 23 kills and six aces, broke her own kills record less than 24 hours later. A trio of aces and five total blocks gave her 30.5 points in the game, also a new single-game school record.

At the helm of the UBCO hitters' attacks was Heat setter Abigail Dueck. The second-year from Winnipeg, Dueck's 64 assists are the most in Heat history, breaking the previous record of 61 which stood for nine years.

"Being able to [break the record] was amazing and doing it with Jade [Bussard] made it even better," said Grills after the victory. "We push each other to work for it and it really showed tonight. [Abigail Dueck] came out tonight and worked so hard and delivered beautiful sets to everyone."

"We have been working been working really hard and all the pieces are really coming together," she added.

The two teams would trade the opening four sets of the game, with each team getting a set point in both of the first two frames. Manitoba would decisively take the third set, but it would be all Heat from there on out. UBCO would take the final two sets by a combined score of 40-18.

Along with the individual records, UBCO also set team records for hitting percentage in a five set match (.338), points (88) and assists (68).

Manitoba got strong performances from Light Uchechukwu and Ella Gray in the loss. Uchechukwu, a second year from Winnipeg, had a team high 16 kills on 48 attacks. Gray, a first-year from Surrey, B.C., had 10 kills and 12 digs, while her strong jump float serves allowed her team to go on runs on her service points.

The win means the Heat finish Round One pool play with a 2-1 mark, good for second place in the pool behind unbeaten Mount Royal (3-0). Both teams will advance to Round Two where the Heat will face the host No. 1-ranked Trinity Western Spartans and the No. 2-ranked Alberta Pandas while No. 5-ranked Mount Royal will host the UBC Thunderbirds and the Calgary Dinos.

Stay tuned to GoHeat.ca and the @UBCOHeat social channels all week long for complete and up-to-date playoff information.