Madison Kaneda (left) of the UBC Okanagan Heat drives past Chloee St. Amour in CIS women’s basketball action Saturday at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.

Madison Kaneda (left) of the UBC Okanagan Heat drives past Chloee St. Amour in CIS women’s basketball action Saturday at War Memorial Gym in Vancouver.

UBC Okanagan Heat pushing for volleyball postseason

UBC Okanagan Heat ground University of Regina Cougars in four sets in CIS men’s volleyball action Saturday at the UBCO North Campus Gym.

The UBC Okanagan Heat took down the University of Regina Cougars in four sets (19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 25-21) in CIS men’s volleyball action Saturday night at the UBCO North Campus Gym.

The Heat, who outlasted the Cougars in a tie-breaking fifth set, 3-2 (18-25, 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 15-6) Friday night, improved to 5-11, only two games out of a playoff spot.

Regina took the first set Saturday after a kill by freshman Andrew Nelson. The Heat changed things up for the second set, with freshman middle Leigh Goossen seeing a lot of floor time from then on.

Outside hitter Greg Niemantsverdriet (third year, Vernon) was instrumental in the Heat’s offensive effort, pounding a monstrous kill to tie the game at 5-5 and adding another kill shortly after to give his team the lead.

Nate Speijer and fellow outside hitter Riley McFarland were also in fine form, complementing UBC Okanagan’s ever-strengthening offensive presence on the court. The Heat converted 45.5 per cent of kills in the second set, accounting for 19 of the points scored in their 25-16 second-set win.

“Greg (Niemantsverdriet) has really turned the corner,” said Heat head coach Greg Poitras. “It’s like night and day where he’s at with his attacking and serving.

“Leigh had a key touch on the block and served tough as well. He did what he needed to do to stay on the court.”

Niemantsverdriet led the Heat with a game-high 17 kills and 14 digs, while Speijer pounded 15 kills.

Heat captain and setter Preston Tucker (fifth year, Vernon) shot up 51 assists and grabbed a team-high 13 digs Friday night.

The Heat, who have four games left before the playoffs, open a weekend series in Saskatoon tonight versus the 3-13 Huskies. The Heat are trying to catch the 7-11 Winnipeg Wesmen for the seventh and final playoff berth.

In CIS women’s basketball, the Heat had no answer against the UBC Thunderbird’s stifling defence in a 71-40 loss Saturday night at War Memorial Gym.

UBC Okanagan could not find any offensive rhythm and it didn’t take long for the No. 3-ranked T-Birds to take complete control of the game. Within the first three minutes the hosts – who have won eight in a row – had an eight point lead on the Heat.

With the Heat’s offensive struggling against the athletic UBC defence, the Thunderbirds built up a 19-7 lead after the first quarter and held a 25-point advantage at halftime.

The deficit continued to grow for the Heat through the third quarter, and by the time the fourth rolled around the ‘Birds were up 56-17 and held a 25-6 advantage in points off turnovers, holding the Heat to 18 per cent shooting from the floor.

Emily Kanester, a Vernon Panther grad, and Maddie Kaneda, a former Fulton Maroon, supplied eight and six points respectively.

“The team was flat at the start of the game,” said Heat coach Heather Semeniuk. “They (T-Birds) came out really strong tonight, way stronger than last night (81-57 loss). I think that, combined with the fact that we struggled putting the ball in the hoop, took us down a notch.”

UBC moved to 12-2 on the year, while the Heat dipped to 2-12. They host the 6-8 University of Victoria Vikings tonight (6 p.m.) and Saturday at 4 p.m. Fans are urged to wear pink shirts for tonight’s Shoot For The Cure game.