Cameron Doherty, Huskie Athletics
SASKATOON – In front of hundreds of raucous fans on 'Kids Day' inside the PAC, the University of Saskatchewan Hsukies women's volleyball team came from behind to defeat the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 18-25, 25-21, 15-9) on Saturday, Nov. 30.
"It was a gutsy effort for sure and we need to be a little better to avoid situations where we have to come from behind, but to be able to find a way out of those situations is pretty huge and we will definitely be happy with the win," said Huskies head coach Mark Dodds.
The Heat's offence was the more efficient of the two on the day, holding a .227-.214% advantage in hitting percentage. A resilient Huskies team forced 25 attack errors from the visitors and put up four more blocks to come away with the win in the marathon match.
Third-year outside-hitter Emily Koshinsky led the Huskies with 15 kills on the day but it was a balanced attack that made the difference. Olivia Mattern, Georgia Hurry, Brooke Listwin and Taylor Annala all recorded seven or more kills in the win.
"We are spreading the ball around and everybody is contributing," said Dodds. "We are going to need that because it's a long season and it was nice to see some others step up today."
Ann Richards was electric for the Heat, putting away 22 of her 49 attacks while adding 12 digs and six assists. Also chipping in were Jade Bussard and Sydney Grills, who ended the match with 13 and 11 kills respectively.
The win moves the Huskies' record to 3-8 on the season and snaps what was an eight-game skid coming into the weekend.
"We've had a tough stretch in our schedule and haven't had a lot of success so this is for sure going to be uplifting, bring us some confidence and hopefully got us back rolling in the right direction," said Dodds.
The Heat meanwhile, drop to 2-9 in Canada West play.
Saskatchewan was down 14-6 in the first set thanks in large part to the Heat's Aidan Lea who had three kills and two blocks early. Two-straight aces from Hurry swung the momentum back in favour of the Huskies however, and the home team eventually tied it at 18-18 off a thunderous kill from Koshinsky. With the packed crowd cheering them on, Saskatchewan was able to take the lead and never gave it back en route to a 25-21 win in a first set that saw Listwin record five kills.
The second set went right down to the wire and the Heat were able to rebound from trailing 23-20 to ride out some Saskatchewan attacks en route to scoring five straight points and even up the match 1-1. Richards led all players with six kills in the set.
Set three would prove to be the most lopsided of the day. The Heat took an early lead and four straight kills from Bussard allowed the visitors to pull away late for the 25-18 win. Bussard ended the set with seven kills, closely followed by six from Richards.
A back-and-forth fourth set saw neither team able to take a lead of more than two until Koshinsky took over with the score at 17-18. Four-straight tough to handle serves from the third-year outside-hitter made it 21-18 in favour of the Huskies, allowing them to take the set 25-21 and send the game to a fifth and final frame.
Saskatchewan flew out of the gates to begin the fifth and forced a Heat timeout after a Koshinsky kill at 11-4. UBCO would rebound to cut the gap to 11-8, but it was too little too late as the Huskies rode out the remainder of the fifth for the victory.
Both of these teams will be back in action to finish out their weekend series, and their respective 2018 regular season schedules, tomorrow Dec. 1 at 1:00 p.m.