The UBC Okanagan Heat had the Ryerson Rams right where they wanted them.
Three days later, the Rams were U SPORTS national women’s volleyball champs and the Heat were headed home empty handed.
In the opening round of nationals at the University of Laval, UBC Okanagan led Ryerson 2-0, only to see the eventual champion Rams roar back for a 3-2 win (22-25, 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-8), dropping the Heat to the consolation side of the draw.
“Ryerson is a very good team, very well coached with great athletes,” said Heat head coach Steve Manuel. “You can’t let them in the door and this is exactly what we did tonight. They fully took advantage of it.”
Ryerson went on to defeat Alberta in five sets in the final to win its first ever national title.
The Heat, who went in as the No. 5 seed, then faced the host Laval Rouge et Or in the consolation semi-final and went down to defeat 3-1 (25-16, 17-25, 27-25, 25-20).
Despite coming home without a win, Steve Manuel said there’s plenty of positives for the Heat to take away from their second appearance in three years at nationals.
“We are still building a program,” said Manuel. “We are a relatively new volleyball program to U SPORTS. What I hope is that we learned something from this week and understand what it takes to be a little bit better among the top eight teams in the country so we can be a little bit more ready with this group when we return.”
The loss ends the UBC Okanagan careers for three players. Erin Drew, a middle from Rutland Secondary, and two outside hitters Siobhan Fitzpatrick, from Immaculata High, and Michelle Jakszuk, from Elphinstone Secondary in Gibsons, all had outstanding careers with the Heat.
Lea an all-Canadian
The Heat didn’t come home with a medal but UBCO’s Aidan Lea is bringing back a national award.
The third-year middle and Kelowna native was named to the 2018 U SPORTS women’s volleyball all-Canadian second team.
Playing in all 24 matches, Lea logged 88 sets of court time, amassing 226 kills or 2.57 per set for a balanced Heat attack.
Lea is the third UBC Okanagan volleyball player to be selected to the highest award in the nation since UBCO started competing at the highest level of university sports competition.
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