As UBC Okanagan’s volleyball teams prepare for their fifth season in Canada West this fall, both the men’s and women’s squads will look to climb higher not only on the conference charts, but to also make a name on the CIS national map.
The 2015-16 schedule features another 24-game slate, a marathon compared to many other CIS sports but one which the Heat by now are well prepared for.
The Heat women, their capacity to bring their game to the highest of levels no longer a secret, have their eyes squarely set on a fourth straight trip to the dance. The men, meanwhile, look to build upon the success of last season and continue their fight to breakthrough to the postseason for the first time in four years.
Opening weekend is also the home opener for the Heat this upcoming year as the Regina Cougars visit town Oct. 16 and17.
The first month of play will feature exclusively prairie teams as the Heat visit Saskatchewan and host the Winnipeg the following two weekends.
The Heat squads will be on the road for most of November following a bye for the first week of the month, first to Calgary and then to Brandon.
The men’s team capped off their impressive six-game streak last season versus the Dinos, and Jim Bell will likely try and up his 34 weekend kill total with an encore, this time at the Jack.
They return for one of their marquee matchups of the year to host valley rival Thompson Rivers Nov. 27 and 28.
A balance of twelve games in each semester paces the 2015-16 calendar, and the Heat will ring in 2016 with a tough road trip to Manitoba Jan. 8 and 9.
The women’s matchup in particular promises to be a ferocious affair when the Bisons will no doubt try and avenge their Canada West quarters ouster to the same Heat squad last February in a 2-0 sweep.
The last two weeks of play in January may be the toughest grind of all for the Heat, but they at least will have the home crowd behind them when they host Alberta followed by the UBC Thunderbirds on Jan. 15 and 16, and Jan.29 and 30, respectively.
Alberta was the top team in the conference last season for both the men’s and women’s tallies, and the men’s squad is fresh off a CIS title season. As the women’s team wound up in a three-way tie with Alberta (and Trinity Western) last season, this date with the Pandas could very well be critical once again, as they dropped both contests in Edmonton last year.
The last weekend for fans to circle on their calendars in bold has to be their second-last road trip when they visit the dynastic Trinity Western Spartans.
The Spartan ladies are the reigning national champions, but with the departure of the legendary Alicia Perrin from TWU’s ranks, the middle is wide open for the Heat’s Katy Klomps to continue building her own legacy in the Canadian volleyball history books.
UBC Okanagan will have home dates to bookend the season and bolster their end-of-season chances at the playoffs, hosting the Mount Royal Cougars Feb. 19 and 20. The Cougars were the ones to snap the Heat women’s midseason 13-game win streak.
If the either Heat team qualifies for another playoff berth they will begin competition in the Canada West quarterfinals the weekend of February 26-28, barring a first-place finish and automatic bye to the Canada West Final Four.