KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat men got their season underway on Friday night against last year's Canada West bronze medalist UBC Thunderbirds. The rivalry match saw the visitors open their season with a victory, as the Thunderbirds beat the Heat 3-1 in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
Despite taking the third set and keeping it close in the fourth, the Heat men were unable to earn their first victory of this year's schedule in the opener, as they were simply unable to match offensively, the older and more experienced Thunderbirds team.
UBC took the opener 25-21. The visitors' offense was on full display, putting away 16 kills on a .464 hitting percentage, they set the tone for the match early. The Heat had leads early in the set, but the Thunderbirds pulled ahead at 10-9 and were ahead from then on.
The second was tight all the way through. Neither side was able to get way out ahead, and the Heat up at 23-22 before the Thunderbirds scored three straight points to take a 2-0 set lead.
The Heat got their first set win of the season in the third, taking it 25-21. They had the lead all the way through, after jumping ahead 3-0 to start. That was the only time in the set that either side scored more than twice consecutively, and after they essentially alternated points the Heat were able to close it out.
The Thunderbirds closed out their first win of the season with a 25-22 fourth set victory to lock it up, 3-1. The Heat never led in the final frame, but tied it up twice and were within a point at 22-21 and 23-22. Back-to-back kills for the 'Birds courtesy of Irvan Brar and Mat Guidi provided the final two points.
Lars Bornemann and Kyle Hinchey led the Heat attack, finishing with 17 and 10 kills respectively. Hinchey added three blocks, while libero Eli Risso and setter Jon Russo led the way in digs and assists with nine and 35 respectively.
Irvan Brar and Cam Fennema both finished in double digits in kills, with 13 and 11, while Jordan Deshane, Joel Regerh, and Mat Guidi each had eight. Setter Byron Keturakis put up 39 assists for the Thunderbirds attack, and had a team-high 10 digs.
First-Time Heat Performances
Caleb Funk and Lucas Robertson, two of the Heat's five offseason additions, saw action in the Friday night contest. Funk earned two kills on four attempts, and picked up a dig in two sets played. Robertson also played in two sets, finishing with a kill in two tries.
The UBC Okanagan Heat (0-1) and the UBC Thunderbirds (1-0) will face off again Saturday evening, with first serve set to go at 7 p.m. in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium.
~ Grayson B. Leahy, Heat Sports Information