Mike Still, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG — The Manitoba Bisons bounced back from an early one set deficit to top the UBC Okanagan Heat 3-1 (23-25, 25-12, 25-16, 25-20) on Friday night at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
Right side Kearley Abbott had 13 kills to lead Manitoba, while outside hitter Ann Richards paced the Heat with 13 as well. Setter Kelsey Jordan also had seven kills and an .875 hitting percentage for the hosts, who hit .297 for the game, compared to .122 for UBC Okanagan.
"I was disappointed in the first set. We did come back and play better, but generally speaking, I wouldn't say I was thrilled about our side, considering where we're at in the season and the importance of not just the match, but every single set," Bisons head coach Ken Bentley said postgame.
"At times, we were very good, and other times we should've done a better job with the ball than we did and they took advantage of it."
The first set featured some impressive runs from both sides that ended in an eventual set win for UBCO.
It was the Bisons who erupted to an early 14-7 lead, however the Heat fought back, outscoring the hosts 9-1 shortly after to take a 16-15 lead at the technical timeout.
Manitoba would get back to as close as one, at 25-24 late, but couldn't complete the comeback. Middle Aidan Lea led all Heat players with five kills and two big service aces, while libero Cassie Bujan had nine digs on some key rallies and Abbott had four kills.
A total of ten errors came back to haunt UBCO in the second set, as they struggled to maintain momentum. The hosts on the other hand, committed just one error. Additionally, Manitoba had a stellar hitting percentage at .526, while the Heat struggled, at -.033
The visitors trailed 16-8 at the technical timeout and simply couldn't get out of the hole they created, falling 25-12. Middle Jocelyn Koswin was stellar on the other end, registering three kills as well as three assisted blocks. Richards was UBCO's best threat, with four kills.
The hosts ran up a strong lead in the third set as well, leading 16-10 at the technical timeout. Left side Laura Findlay was a huge factor during Manitoba's run, posting a few big kills and five overall.
UBCO outside hitter Natalie Livingston responded well for the Heat, with three big digs during a few back-and-forth runs, while outside hitter Sydney Grills had two kills, but again, a few costly errors cost the visitors late, as the hosts secured the 25-16 win.
Manitoba hit a clean .278 in the set, while UBCO struggled again, at just .025.
The fifth set provided much of the same storyline as the last two, as Manitoba continued to capitalize on some tough UBCO errors to take a 16-10 lead at the technical timeout.
Despite the score, the visitors kept fighting, getting an inspired performance from left side Jade Bussard, who had kills in the set and overall and helped claw the squad back to within four late, at 24-20.
But as good as Bussard was, Koswin was that much better, tallying four kills herself as the Bisons took the game in four sets.
With the win, Manitoba advanced to 7-8, while the Heat fell to 2-13. Both teams are back at it tomorrow at 5 p.m. CST.