UBC Okanagan Heat fall in first round

UBC Okanagan Heat bow to Manitoba Bisons in first round of Canada West men's volleyball playoffs.

The UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball postseason came to an abrupt end Friday as they bowed in straight sets (25-19, 25-20, 25-20) to the No. 2 University of Manitoba Bisons at the Investors Group Athletic Centre in Winnipeg.

The Heat were pleased with their first year in Canadian Interuniversity Sport’s (CIS) Canada West division, finishing with eight regular-season and a trip to the postseason.

“We could have been sitting at home right now wishing we were in the playoffs,” said Heat head coach Greg Poitras. “Instead, we got to experience Canada West playoffs and that is a major step going into next year.” We got to experience playoffs in our first year, that’s huge. Seeing how teams go from the start of the year and how they get their form the start of the playoffs, and how sharp the top teams are in the playoffs, that is a lesson for our guys.”

The Heat came out as the aggressors  against the Bisons, putting the hosts on the defensive yet were unable to create a lead. Manitoba used the block as a weapon all night, as Dane Pischke, Joseph Brooks, Carson Kauenhowen and Chris Voth all seemed to come up with a block to snuff out a Heat run.

The Bisons finished with 11 blocks, four in the first set, 2.5 in the second and 4.5 in the third.

In his final university game, fifth-year setter and captain Preston Tucker of Vernon finished with 32 assists. He took the loss in stride.

“I hadn’t really thought about it, I’m not an emotional guy,” said Tucker.

Vernon’s Greg Niemantsverdriet chipped in with six kills and a dozen digs for the Heat.

UBC Okanagan fourth-year outside hitters Nate Speijer (Penticton) and Riley McFarland (Surrey) had 17 kills and four blocks, and 10 kills and eight digs, respectively.

The Bisons own duo of fourth-year outside hitters, Pishcke and Voth, led their team with 10 kills each. Voth added eight digs, Pischke led the block party with six, Brooks had five, Voth and Kauehhowen had three.

The second and third sets were carbon copies of the first, with Manitoba able to block any Heat rally with strong defensive play at the net.

Poitras is excited about the team’s future with the experience his young guys received this weekend.

“I’m super proud of the guys, and super proud of the new players showing their toughness. That was the most impressive thing.”

Along with Tucker, the Heat will lose at least two other players from this year’s squad as middle Mark Broome and libero Spencer Brown all have used their five years of eligibility.