Cougars hand No. 2 Heat their first loss of the season

Cougars hand No. 2 Heat their first loss of the season

Brendan Stasiewich, Mount Royal Sports Information

CALGARY - The Mount Royal Cougars' took down the UBC Okanogan Heat in five sets on Saturday night on Kenyon Court (25-27, 25-19, 21-25, 25-18, 15-10).

Amy Gordon, Cassidy Kitchen and Kylie Willis were standout players for the Cougars, with Kitchen leading the team with 14 kills.  Meanwhile Kaitlynn Given registered 21 kills for the Heat in their first loss of the season. 

The Heat picked up where they had left off from the night before, doubling the Cougars up 12-6 early, forcing a timeout from the home squad. The Heat continued their strong play out of the timeout, winning the next four points to force another timeout from the home squad now down 16-6. 

Behind clutch serving from Taylor Pelland the Cougars clawed back into the set, winning four in a row to pull within six. After a few Kylie Willis kills, the Heat looked up at the scoreboard to see their lead diminished to just three with the score 18-15. 

The Cougars continued their excellent play after a Heat timeout. The Cougars placed the ball in just the right spots and after a great floating serve from Chantel Park the Cougars had their first lead, up 20-19. 

With the score 23-21, Kylie Willis made a great kill, avoiding defenders to put the Cougars within one of taking the first set. However, the Heat fought back and with the score 23-24 a hit attempt went off the fingertips of a Cougars' player, tying the game at 24.

With the Heat up 26-25, the Cougars set up a kill that was blocked straight down by Aidan Lea, giving the Heat the set by a score of 27-25. 

The two teams were neck in neck for the duration of the second set. Carly Davis had a few excellent points for the Cougars in the middle of the set, first sending a thunderous smash down and then blocking a kill attempt the very next point, giving the Cougars a 14-13 lead. 

From there Mount Royal continued their strong team play and won 11 out of the next 17 points, giving them a 25-19 second set win thanks in part to six kills from Kylie Willis.   

The Cougars carried that same effort into the third set, winning a few extended rallies to jump out to a 13-8 lead before a Heat timeout. The Heat came out of the timeout strong and eventually tied the game up at 17. 

The Cougars didn't have an answer to the Heat's strong play.  Siobhan Fitzpatrick and Kaitlynn Given made an impact for the Heat in the later half of the third set, each making a few great kills, helping their squad take the set 25-21. 

The back and fourth match continued in the fourth, as it was the Cougars again jumping on the Heat early. After a number of long rallies the Cougars gained a three point lead, up 19-16. A few points later Willis made a huge block on a Heat spike attempt, giving her team a commanding 23-18 lead. 

After the Cougars won another point, Willis made another huge block to win the set for Mount Royal by a score of 25-18, sending the game to a fifth and deciding set. 

Willis picked up where she left off and made another huge rejection on a kill attempt early in the set, tying the game at two. The Heat rallied after that, winning the next three points to take a 5-3 lead, forcing Mount Royal to take a timeout.  

Out of the timeout Mount Royal rallied and tied the game back up at six. With the score tied at eight, Taylor Pelland sent a kill down the line, and then another one cross-court on the next point to give the Cougars a 10-8 lead.   

With the Cougars up 14-10, Pelland got it done again when it mattered, sending down another kill, handing the Heat their first loss of the season. 

The win improves Mount Royal's record to 4-2 while the Heat's first loss of the season drops them to 5-1. 

The Cougar's will be back in action next weekend for a home and home against the University of Calgary Dinos. Meanwhile the Heat will head to Saskatchewan for a weekend set again the Regina Cougars.