Within their first two seasons in Canada West, both the men’s and women’s UBC Okanagan Heat volleyball squads made the playoffs once each.
Now, with the 2013-14 Canada West schedule announced and the season looming, the teams are hungry for a chance to prove that their appearances were not just beginner’s luck.
Only the top seven teams in the conference will advance to the Canada West playoffs, and we could very well see playoff bids for the Heat come down to the wire at the end of the season the way it did for each of the team’s trip to the dance.
And there is no correlation to being new to a conference and a team’s ability to succeed, as both the Heat and last year’s Canada West entrant Mount Royal have proved, with the women’s squads duking it out in an epic battle at the UBCO gymnasium in the first round of the playoffs last season.
The Heat men will open their season on home court on Friday, Oct. 25, featuring the annual B.C. Interior showdown versus the Thompson Rivers WolfPack, with the women in Kamloops battling the WolfPack on the Friday. The teams then switch locales the next day with the women’s home opener Saturday night, while the men invade Kamloops to wrap up Canada West opening weekend.
The following weekend (Nov. 2 and 3) the Heat will welcome Mount Royal to Kelowna. After the Heat women’s heartbreaking loss in the first round last year, the girls in blue and gold will be out for revenge. One of only two schools newer to Canada West than UBC Okanagan, the Cougars squads will still bring poise, determination and confidence that will be sure to make for an electric showdown of two of the conferences’ best newcomers, and that could possibly become an annual rivalry.
This year the Heat have the honour again of hosting the campus-campus showdown when they will square off versus the UBC Thunderbirds in the first action of 2014, the weekend of Jan. 10 and 11 at UBC’s Okanagan campus will see UBC versus UBC. Always a fan favourite, this matchup draws droves from not just the student body, but the community at large.
As for post-season play, the best-of-three quarter-finals get underway the week of Feb. 14.
The CIS nationals for both men’s and women’s volleyball will be hosted by Canada West schools this year. The University of Regina women and Calgary men are assured CIS spots to the big dance and both championships will take place Feb. 28 to Mar. 2.
For more info on schedules and game times visit www.goheat.ca.