The Junior Heat are celebrating provincial gold this week after capturing Volleyball B.C.’s U17 provincial title in Abbotsford.
After losing their opening match at the U17/U18 championships Saturday morning to Coquitlam, the Jr. Heat ran the table with six straight victories to lay claim to the championship.
It was the U17 Heat’s first provincial title in just its second year of operation.
The Heat defeated Burnaby’s Focus Blitz 25-20, 25-23, then Campbell River Crush 25-15, 25-15 to wrap up pool play.
The Heat then defeated Terrace (25-21, 25-15) in the quarters, and the No. 1 seeded Force 2-1 (21-25, 25-20, 15-10) in the semis to advance to the championship match against the Vancouver Thunder.
In the final, the Heat lost the first set 22-25 and faced a match point in second set, but found a way to stay alive and squeak that one out 27-25. The third and deciding set was another exciting one with the Heat winning it 15-11 and claiming the provincial championship title.
“This was a great win for our program, especially considering that this is only our second season of Jr Heat club volleyball,” said Steve Manuel, who oversees the program and mentors the teams. “I am very proud of all the work that this team, both players and coaches have put in and now we are seeing the results. Every single player on this team has made a significant contribution throughout the season and during the championship, they should all be very proud of this accomplishment.”
Three Jr. Heat athletes were recognized for their exceptional play, as Megan Hart (Immaculata) and Rachelle Duckworth (Sa-Hali) were selected to the tournament all-star team, while Tessa Neil (Kelowna Secondary) was selected as the Most Valuable Player.
The U17 Heat is far from being done, as they will now compete in the Volleyball Canada National Championship on May 9 to 11 in Edmonton.
In the 18U event, the Jr Heat also had their eyes on the B.C. title but after losing a heartbreaker in the third and deciding set of the quarterfinals, they had to settle for fifth place after winning their last two match of the tournament. The U18s are also off to nationals in the next two weeks.