Kelowna, B.C. – It was a solid start to the postseason for the Heat women's volleyball team on Friday night as they captured a four set win against the visiting Manitoba Bisons.
After dropping the first set 25-22, the Heat would find their groove and win the next three sets to close out the match. With the win, the Heat have an opportunity to advance to the Canada West semi-finals and U SPORTS National Championship with a victory on Saturday night in the best-of-three quarter-final series, Manitoba will now look to extend the series to a third match. First serve on Saturday goes at 5 p.m. PST in the Okanagan Gym
The two teams would go back and forth early in the first set, with the Heat holding the slight advantage at 11-9. The Bisons would then take control of the first set, using an 11-5 run to take the lead 20-16 late on. Although the Heat would cut the deficit to just two, they were unable to get any closer and would fall 25-22. Ann Richards would lead the way for UBCO with six kills in the first set. The Herd's balanced attack was evident with Laura Findlay, Jocelyn Koswin, and setter Brittany Habing all notching three kills.
It was a hot start in the second for the Heat, as they would lead 9-3 early on. The visitors rallied with a 6-1 run just past the midway point of the frame to cut their deficit to just one at 21-20. The Heat would have a chance to close out the set with the score 24-22, but back-to-back points from the Bisons would square things up. A costly service error would give the home team another chance to win the set and this time they would capitalize thanks to a huge block from Aidan Lea and Michelle Jakszuk.
After the first point of the third set went the Bisons' way, it would be all Heat throughout. They would go into the technical timeout leading 16-12 thanks to an Ann Richards kill and although the Bisons cut the deficit to one at 21-20, they couldn't complete the comeback. As a team the Heat hit a game-high .370 in the frame thanks to 13 kills on just 27 attempts.
Determined to close out the match in four sets, the Heat would come out firing in the fourth as they scored the first two points, and would build as much as a five point lead. The Bisons fought back strong however, as they would get their first lead of the set at 20-19. After an attack error from the visitors tied the set up at 21, the Heat rallied off four straight points to close out the Bisons. The defense of Manitoba's Cassie Bujan was spectacular in the fourth set where she sprung for nine of her match-high 22 digs.
- Outside hitter Ann Richards led the way on offense for the home team as she had a team-high 14 kills on a .316 hitting percentage.
- Fourth year Kelowna product Siobhan Fitzpatrick finished with a double-double on the night, as she had 13 kills along with a team-high 14 digs.
- Michelle Jakszuk was the other Heat attacker in double-figures with 10.
- Kearley Abbott provided much of the offense on the night for the visitors as she finished with a team-high 18 kills along with 10 digs.
- Libero Cassie Bujan continued her strong play against the Heat with a game-high 22 digs. Bujan recorded over 20 kills in both games last weekend against the Heat.
Inside the numbers:
- The Bisons would hold the advantage on the night in kills (58-51), digs (79-71) and assists (53-48) while the Heat had more service aces (7-5) and total blocks (14-6).
~ Oliver Rizun, Heat sports information