Steven Lin, Heat Athletics
KELOWNA B.C. – Fifth year senior Ann Richards did what a senior player is supposed to do when a young team hits a road block.
The Heat women's volleyball would win their first match on the season and ending their winless drought by defeating the Mount Royal Cougars in a four-set win on Saturday night at UBC Okanagan.
Powered and emboldened by Richards the Heat dropped the first set and then took the next three to grab the victory.
Richards led with 19 kills and an obscene .472 attack rate, while the other two first year players starting on the outside with Richards followed with big nights as well. Jade Bussard and Sydney Grills both finished with 13 kills. For Bussard, a first year left side from Red Deer, the 13 kills represented a career high. Grills hit .300 on the night and added eight digs for UBCO.
The turning point of the match was in the second set, UBCO took a 24-20 lead and looked to capture their second set win in nearly a month, Mount Royal roared back to draw even at 24. What looked like another missed opportunity turned into motivation as the Heat received kills from Richards and then Grills to grab the set 26-24.
Cruising from there, UBCO grabbed the next two sets en route to (25-19, 26-24, 25-22, 25-20) the win.
Once again Mount Royal was led by the duo of Chantel Park and Cassidy Kitchen. Park had a solid performance with 17 kills and eight digs while Kitchen finished with 10-24 in attacks (.333) served up three aces, eight digs and three blocks for a complete match.
Quinn Pelland had 35 assists for MRU, Natalie Livingston led the match with 46 helpers.
The win, UBCO's first win of the season, has their record at (1-7). The loss tonight for the Mount Royal Cougars has them split the weekend and brought back their record to .500 at (4-4).
Started 8-8 until the Cougars extended the lead with two service aces to 12-8. The Heat would cut the deficit to two points at 18-20 but three service aces from Nicky Zalasky led MRU to win the set at 25-19.
Never more than a two-point bulge until UBCO went up 20-17, MRU fought off 4-straight set points before kills from Ann Richards and then Sydney Grills closed out the set 26-24.
Within two- three points up to 22-22, it was the same two but different order as the Heat got a kill from Grills, an MRU attack error and then Richards with the put away to close out the set (25-22).
Mount Royal reached the technical timeout first 16-14, but the newly confident Heat squad reeled off 11 of the next 15 points, including the last four to earn the victory (25-20). It was Bussard, who would seal the deal for the Heat with two straight kills to end the match.
Next weekend, the Heat will remain at home for two a weekend date with the Brandon Bobcats. First serve on Friday (Nov. 23) is at 6 p.m. PST and then on Saturday at 5 p.m. PST.
Mount Royal will be traveling to Manitoba to play the Winnipeg Wesmen on Friday and Saturday (November 23-24).