Heat teammates Eric Drew (left) and Michelle Jakszuk team up for a block against the Trinity Western Spartans in Canada West women's volleyball action at UBC Okanagan.

Positives for Heat in losses to Spartans

UBC Okanagan heads into bye week to rest and refocus after to hard-fought home losses to Trinity Western in Canada West volleyball

Even with a pair of losses tacked on to their record, head coach Steve Manuel had no qualms with the effort delivered by his UBC Okanagan Heat women’s volleyball squad.

In two matches Manuel believed could have swung either way, the No. 3 Trinity Western Spartans prevailed on both nights against the hometown and ninth-ranked Heat in Canada West action.

“I’m proud of how the team played,” said Manuel. “A bounce here or there either night, and the results could have been different.

“While we had five new starters on the floor, (Trinity) is a team with most of their veterans returning. They’ve been CIS national finalists the last two years, so to be right there with them all the way was good to see.

“There wasn’t much to choose between us.”

On Friday, in a battle to the finish, the Spartans escaped with a gripping five-set win over UBCO—12-25, 25-18, 25-21, 23-25, and 22-20. It was the seventh straight time the two Canada West rivals had gone to the limit.

Trinity Western’s Sophie Carpentier and Elizabeth Wendel led all hitters in the match with 19 kills apiece.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick led the Heat attack with 16 kills. Kaitlynn Given and Michelle Jakszuk each finished with 15, and Given added 22 digs.

On Saturday, TWU took down the Heat in four sets 25-21, 19-25, 25-23, and 25-16.

The Heat finished the match with more kills (54-49), but the Spartans delivered them more consistently. Hitting percentages were .235 to .210 in favour of the visitors, while UBCO committed 25 attacking errors to Trinity’s 18.

Carpentier once again led the Spartan attack, putting up a match-high 22 kills.

For the Heat, Given, Jakszuk and Fitzpatrick finished with 16, 15 and 14 kills, respectively. Megan Festival, having recently been switched to the libero position, led UBCO with 17 digs.

Manuel and the Heat have been challenged the last couple of weekends by the absence of veteran Emily Oxland, who has been sidelined with an upper body injury.

While Manuel said freshman Sara McCreary has done an admirable job filling in for Oxland, the absence of the fifth-year setter has had an effect how he uses his roster.

“It’s just takes away a few options, we’re using people in different situations where maybe they haven’t been very much before,” said Manuel, adding that “Sara has stepped in and done a great job the last couple of weeks.

“But having Emily in the lineup does give us a bit more of a repertoire.”

While the Spartans pushed their record to 15-1, the Heat are now 10-6 but still solidly in fifth spot in Canada West.

With a bye week coming up and eight matches remaining, Manuel likes how his team is playing and how they’re positioned.

“We’re right in the thick of it,” he said. “I think this team is getting better as the season goes on.”

Manuel said the Heat are welcoming the week off and will use time to both heal the bumps, bruises and aching muscles, and to fine tune for the stretch run.

The Heat will return to action Feb. 3 and 4 when they host the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

See video from Saturday’s match here.

Heat men…

The UBC Okanagan men knew they’d have their work cut out with the No. 1 ranked team in CIS volleyball.

The Trinity Western Spartans lived up to their billing with a pair of sweeps over the hometown Heat at the Kelowna campus gym.

On Friday, the Spartans prevailed 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, and 25-17) in UBCO’s first home match of the new year.

Ryan Sclater led TWU with 14 kills, while Lars Bornemann was the best Heat hitter on the night, finishing with nine kills and .333 hitting percentage.

On Saturday, Trinity dominated again in three sets, 25-12, 25-20, and 25-18.

Sclater again led the Spartans with 16 kills. Kyle Hinchey had eight kills for UBCO, while Bornemann finished with six.

The Heat (4-12) will have this coming weekend off, before returning to action Feb. 3 and 4 at home to the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.