Cary Mellon, UBC Okanagan
Kelowna, B.C. - Fast starts for the Heat, and a 22-point night from fifth-year outside hitter, Ann Richards, did not phase the Regina Cougars as they won their seventh in a row, dropping the UBCO women's volleyball team in four sets on Friday night.
In the first three sets, the Heat would pounce on the unsuspecting Coug's, grabbing at least a six-point lead immediately in each set, but the home team was unable to sustain that pace. Regina used a powerful block, 15 on the night, and a match-high 19 kills night from Jessica Lerminiaux to survive their road match in four sets. 3-1 (26-24, 25-18, 21-25, 25-21).
Regina took the first set late, came back in the second set to go up 2-0 before Aidan Lea had nine kills to extend the match in the third set for UBCO. Regina rebounded and flipped the score in the fourth to grab their 13th win on the season.
The Cougars are 13-8 and in fifth place, with a three-game lead. UBC Okanagan falls to 2-17 on the year.
For UBC Okanagan, it was Ann Richards, once again, with the eye-popping night. The fifth-year finished with 18 kills, hitting at a .308 clip, spun four aces and hit the floor for seven digs. Aidan Lea, the Heat's All-Star middle went for 13 kills and rookie Jade Bussard was successful on a third of her attacks, finishing with 10 kills, Bussard added 10 digs for the double-double.
The Cougars setter Satomi Togawa, found hot-hand Lerminiaux all night long as she posted 31 assists and 13 digs. On the block, it was Brooklyn Reynolds with nine in the match.
UBCO head coach Steve Manuel's thoughts after the match.
"We made too many errors down the stretch [and that's why we can't close out teams], [but] it's getting better. Regina is a very good team, they are a top four or five team in Canada West and we battled with them, we had opportunities to win every set; it's just not quite there. The team is doing everything they can to get better every day, and that was a great battle. Tomorrow night we will come out and do it again and try to win a match."
These two teams will continue their series in Kelowna, first serve tomorrow at UBC Okanagan will happen at 5 p.m. PST.
Following those matches on Saturday the Heat will travel for the last time this year, they will head to Edmonton to take on the Alberta Pandas. Regina will wrap up their conference regular season and four match road trip with a battle against the Manitoba Bisons in Winnipeg. Catch all of those games on canadawest.tv.
Jade Bussard led the Heat from the service line in the beginning giving the Heat a quick 5-0 lead, that included one of her two service aces in the set. The quick start meant not much to Regina as they tied the match at 22 with a Brooklyn Reynolds block. UBCO parried and Ann Richards aced the Cougs to put the Heat up 24-23, but it was Reynolds again who hit a step around after a long rally at 24 and then another block, her third in the frame to close out the set 26-24.
A quick 8-2 lead was down to just one at the technical timeout for UBCO, as the Regina setter, Satomi Togawa, dishes out 7 assists and dumps three successfully, with an ace in the set, to push back on that early Heat lead. The Heat fall 25-18 in the second set but Ann Richards puts away five kills in on just nine swings in that frame.
Another quick lead for UBCO, stands up for the 25-21 third set victory, as the Heat get a spark from Samantha Gagnon who serves an ace and creates some fresh offence, while Aidan Lee became very active with nine kills and a solo block to power the Heat in extended the match.
The Heat doesn't jump out early in this set, and the Cougars fend off UBC Okanagan's Ann Richards second five-kill set, with four kills from Jessica Lerminaux, to close out the match for the prairie squad, 25-21.