Sara McCreary (left) and Aidan Lea will try help the UBCO Heat contend for a national women’s university volleyball title this weekend at the University of Laval. -Image: Rich Lam/UBC

Heat aims high at U Sports nationals

UBC Okanagan one of eight teams at Canadian women’s volleyball finals in Quebec City

Falling to UBC in the Canada West semifinal wasn’t exactly the outcome UBC Okanagan Heat women were counting on.

On the upside, the early playoff exit bought Steve Manuel’s squad a much-needed week off to prepare for the U Sports national women’s volleyball championship this weekend in Quebec City.

“All things considered, it’s a pretty good scenario for us,” said Manuel, whose Heat went 19-5 during the regular season. “It was an incredibly busy second semester for us, we spent five of the last seven weekends on the road, so that was a challenging stretch.

“This (break) has given us a chance to rest, get some sleep and rehab and just reload,” he added. “It’s also given us an opportunity to address and work on some things you don’t get a chance to when you’re playing every weekend.”

The Heat, seeded No. 5 in the country, will open nationals on Friday at the University of Laval with a quarterfinal match against the fourth-ranked Ryerson University Rams from Toronto.

“We’ve seen them play quite a bit, they have a nice group of players and to go unbeaten in Ontario, you have to be doing something right,” Manuel said of the Rams. “They’re a good team and well-coached, so like all the matches there, it won’t be easy.”

UBCO is one of four Canada West teams at nationals. The Calgary Dinos head in as the top seed, while UBC is third and Alberta is rated seventh. The University of Montreal (No. 2), host Laval Rouge et Or and Dalhousie round out the eight-team field.

Manuel said any one of “four or five” teams—including the Heat—is capable of claiming the Canadian title, with no fewer than six being legitimate medal contenders.

“I think we’re in a good place going in,” said Manuel. “The players are poised, confident and excited about the chance to be playing for a national medal.”

The Heat competed once before at the U Sports nationals, winning a bronze medal in Brandon in 2016.

Five current UBCO players were on that medal-winning squad—Erin Drew, Michelle Jakszuk, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Sophia Furlan and Skye Thompson.

As for his program’s second appearance at the big show, Manuel said it’s important for the Heat to strike a balance between the task at hand and simply enjoying the experience.

“It’s such a privilege to play in this championship, a lot of players go through their entire university careers without getting close to this,” said Manuel.

“Our sole focus is to win, but if it doesn’t happen it’s not the be-all end-all. We’re going there with the idea that we can bring home a national medal, so we need to embrace the entire experience and enjoy it as much as we can.”

The U Sports national gold medal final goes Sunday in Quebec City at 2 p.m. Pacific time.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@KelownaCapNews
newstips@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Only steps away: Gutsy Walk returns to Kelowna

The walk to cures for Crohn’s disease and colitis comes June 2

Sister of cancer victim cycles across Canada to raise awareness

Her journey started on May 14 and will end in early August

Top women’s hockey player Natalie Spooner coming to the Okanagan

Natalie Spooner special guest at annual Grindstone Award Foundation charity weekend in Kelowna

Woman in hospital after being thrown off horse

She was airlifted to Kelowna General Hospital from Okanagan Falls

Update: Washed out South Okanagan road temporarily closed for assessment

A portion of Eastside Road, south of Penticton, appears to be crumbling into Skaha Lake

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Update: Plan to see more smoke from South Okanagan wildfire

Richter Creek wildfire, 12 kilometres west of Osoyoos, is an estimated 400 hectares

Should B.C. already be implementing province-wide fire bans?

A petition is calling for B.C. Wildfire Service to issue a ban to reduce risk of human caused wildfires

Growing wildfire prompts evacuation of High Level, Alta.

Chuckegg Creek fire has been burning for several day, but grew substantially Sunday

Okanagan art gallery releases their theme

Fine arts painting will be the point of focus for this year’s event

South Okanagan search and rescue help injured climber

Search and rescue called on the assistance of a helicopter to help retrieve an injured hiker

Okanagan nature centre fundraiser goes western

Allan Brook’s Nature Centre Wine and Wild West Fundraiser is on July 6

Marriage proposal on the big screen at Enderby drive-in

Kelowna man gets engaged in front of hundreds to Vernon sweetheart

Take-home drug testing kits latest pilot to help curb B.C.’s overdose crisis

Researchers look to see if fentanyl testing could be a useful tool for those who use drugs alone

Most Read