Even though clinching a CIS Canada West playoff berth the night before, the UBC Okanagan Heat women's volleyball team still felt it had a lot to prove against Winnipeg Wesmen in their second meeting on Saturday.
The Heat needed five sets to defeat the 7-13 Wesmen the previous night, so the Heat (13-7) were looking for a more convincing victory in their return match.
Although head coach Steve Manuel elected to give regular starters Myrte Schon and Kendra Wayling the night off, the young-gun Heat did what they set out to do in a 3-1 (23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 26-24) rout of their hosts.
Rookies Megan Festival of Calgary and Kelowna's Kaitlynn Given filled in admirably, with the latter, a Kelowna Owls graduate, coming through with her best performance of the season.
Along with second-year middle Katie Wuttunee of North Vancouver, the two would bring a new dimension to an impressive Heat offence.
Wuttunee accounted for 11 kills on the night for a sparkling .435 kill percentage, but more importantly, she dominated at the net with five blocks.
Given supplemented Wuttunee with eight kills, while anchoring the back row with 15 digs, and Festival put the bow on the outing with 11 kills for a weekend total of 29.
It was an impressive team effort for the Heat, as six Heat players had five or more kills, while an additional six had five or more digs.
The job of coordinating the Heat machine was once again in the steady hands of freshman setter, Emily Oxland of North Vancouver, who is establishing herself as a top contender for Canada West rookie of the year award. Oxland orchestrated the new players and the regular lineup to a tune of 51 assists. She now has 724 assists, the most in Canada, and she's averaging 9.05 per set fifth best in the nation.
On Friday, the Heat clinched their post-season spot in the Canada West with the 3-2 victory, led by Festival's 18 kills and 11 by Brianna Beamish, who finished with 11 after coming off the bench in place of Wayling.
Still searching for a winning formula, UBC Heat head coach Greg Poitras shook up his lineup on Saturday. The result was no different however as the his team fell 3-0 to the host Winnipeg Westmen for a second consecutive night.
But Kelowna's Davis Proch, thrust into the starting setter position, played well in extended time. He set up the Heat offence to the tune of 25 assists, 10 of which contributed to 10 kills by Greg Niemantsverdriet of Vernon. Jon Russo, a George Elliot Coyotes grad, led the team with 12 kills on the night.
The loss saw the Heat's record fall to 2-18 on the season, while the seventh place Wesmen (10-10) kept their playoff hopes alive with the weekend sweep.
On Friday Niemantsverdriet finished with 11 kills, while Russo chipped in with eight kills and four digs.
Issues at the service line continued, as the committed 10 errors.
The Heat play their final home matches this weekend (Friday and Saturday) when they play host to the Brandon Bobcats.