Steve Manuel couldn’t have asked for much more out of his UBC Okanagan squad during the first semester of the 2014-15 Canada West women’s volleyball season.
By winning its last eight matches heading into the break, the Heat sits at 12-4, two points up on Alberta for top spot in the conference. The Pandas (11-3) do have two games in hand.
UBC Okanagan capped off a near perfect November with a home court sweep of the MacEwan Griffins on the weekend.
On Friday night, the Heat prevailed in straight sets, (25-22, 25-21, 25-22).
Heat outside hitter Brianna Beamish spearheaded the UBC Okanagan attack with 12 kills, while outside hitters Megan Festival and Kaitlynn Given contributed with 9 kills apiece. Libero Kailin Jones put up 13 digs.
Emily Oxland started at setter on Friday for UBC Okanagan and finished with a game high 29 assists.
On Saturday, the No. 3-ranked Heat didn’t have their ‘A’ game but outlasted the Griffins (25-14, 25-19, 16-26, 22-25, 15-12).
Beamish and Given led the Heat with 15 and 13 kills, respectively. Serving specialist Megan Festival ripped in five service aces while Jones led the match with 20 digs.
While Saturday wasn’t his team’s best effort, head coach Steve Manuel is happy with the Heat’s overall performance in the first semester.
“We had a tough start, and we knew MacEwan would be tough,” Manuel said. “We could just as easily be 8-8 as 12-4. So we’re happy, but not surprised that we could be here.”
The Heat return to action Jan. 9 when they host the University of Calgary.
Four straight for Heat men
After 12 straight losses to start the Canada West season, the UBC Okanagan Heat will head into the holiday break in a rather festive mood.
Greg Poitras’ men’s volleyball squad won its last four matches of the first semester, including a sweep of the MacEwan Griffins over the weekend at the Kelowna campus gym.
On Friday, UBCO took down the winless Edmonton-based school in four sets (19-25, 25-16, 25-19, 25-16).
Lars Bornemann led with a match-high 15 kills and three service aces, while Leo Schober turned in an efficient 11 kills with only a single errorn, and a strong defensive performance with a match-high six block assists.
Heat setter Kristof Schlagintweit led with 43 assists to go alongside a match-high nine digs.
On Saturday, the Heat (4-12) was pushed to the limit but survived a five-set match (25-19, 25-19, 21-25, 23-25, 15-10) with their second sweep in as many weeks.
Bornemann fronted the Heat for the third straight match fronted with 18 kills, while fellow outside hitters Alex Swiatlowski and Kyle Pankratz followed with 15 and 12 kills respectively. Libero Jeremy Fostvelt had 12 digs as the Heat staved off a comeback attempt by the Griffins.
“We just needed guys to step up,” said Heat head coach Greg Poitras. “The fifth set had a lot of adversity to deal with at the start. We had to make a couple of plays and try not to get tense, needing to make just one play at a time. We slowly chipped away and momentum fell in our favour.”
The Heat returns to action Jan. 9 at home against Calgary.