A showdown for top spot in Canada West women’s volleyball will take centre stage this weekend at the UBC Okanagan campus gym.
The UBC Okanagan Heat and Alberta Pandas, both at 13-1, will meet on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (5 p.m.) nights in Kelowna.
This weekend’s matches could go a long way in determining the top seed in Canada West and a bye to host berth in the Final Four.
Current Form : The Heat continued their magical form in the league as they beat hosts Manitoba to open 2016 and extend their winning streak to eight games and are now 13-1 and part of a three-way tie for first in Canada West with Alberta and Trinity Western.
The program has lost just one game at home so far and has been unbeaten on their travels. The top of the table clash this upcoming weekend will be a real test for the in-form Heat.
Upcoming schedule: The Heat will face off in their next three series, over four weeks, against No. 1 Alberta , No.2 Trinity Western and No. 5 UBC in the country, these three teams have a combined 37-3 record. After Alberta this weekend UBCO will enjoy a bye, and then they will host sister school, UBC. February 5-6 they play in Langley against the TWU Spartans.
Coach Steve Manuel on having all the top teams bunched together in the schedule: “It doesn’t really matter any longer, we are in a great spot and these next three weekends of competition will simply determine seeding for the top four teams heading into playoffs. We continue to focus primarily on ourselves. We have prepared for the next three weeks and this will give us a great idea what we need to be doing as we head into playoffs.”
Home/Road: Currently the Heat are just 4-1 at home and 9-0 away from Kelowna.
Key Players : Libero Kailin Jones stands fourth across the country with 155 digs at 3.30 digs per set. Outside Hitter Brianna Beamish stands first in the conference with a hitting percentage of .336 and .57 service aces per set. Middle blocker Katy Klomps has been in sublime form this season as she stands third overall with 60 blocks and first overall with 1.43 blocks per set.
Team Stat: UBC Okanagan stands second in the conference with 124 blocks. The Heat have climbed to second place with a hitting percentage of .265.
Coach’s thoughts on last weekend and the team’s preparation for the second half over the break: “The training and competition over the break was outstanding. We were able to work on improving our play and we are ready for the push here in term two.”
Manuel’s thoughts on Alberta: “Alberta is a solid team in every position, no real weaknesses. We need to control the first contact, that will give our block/defense an opportunity to do it’s job while helping us to run our offence. We will need to contain or at least manage Meg Cassault, she continues to be a force attacking.”
Overall Head to Head : (3-5) in conference play. Last year these teams opened the conference season in Edmonton and played to a split. Last time in Kelowna (2013/14) in conference play the teams split.