On successive weekends, the UBC Okanagan Heat has given two of the top teams CIS women’s volleyball all they can handle—and a little bit more.
With splits against the Alberta Pandas, then the No. 1 Trinity Western Spartans, it’s clear Steve Manuel’s squad is ready to take its place alongside country’s best.
In two epic weekend battles at UBCO, the Heat and Spartans went the full five sets each night—with each team claiming one match.
On Friday, the Heat jumped out to a 2-0 lead, only to see TWU rebound with three straight wins and a nail-biting 3-2 victory (29-31, 19-25, 25-20, 29-27, 19-17).
On Saturday, UBCO turned the tables, losing the first two sets, then roaring back to take the match in five (20-25, 22-25, 25-14, 25-19, 15-13) to earn the weekend split.
“Those are two of the best teams in the country, and I think that we have shown in the past two weekends that we’re there as well,” said head coach Steve Manuel, whose Heat are now 2-2 on the season.
On Saturday, Katie Wuttunee was the most efficient player on the court with 10 kills (.400 kill percentage) and five blocks.
Third-year outside hitter Megan Festival led the attack for the Heat as she had a game-high 14 kills to go alongside nine digs. Libero Kailin Jones had 20 digs on the night.
A stronger defensive showing later in the match was critical to the Heat comeback, and fourth-year middle Katy Klomps formed a tandem wall with Wuttunee. Klomps had a game-high seven total blocks.
On Friday night, Brianna Beamish did most of the damage for the Heat with 21 kills.
This weekend, the Heat are right back in the fire when they host another of Canada West’s powers, the defending champions Manitoba Bisons. Matches are set for 5 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.
Progress is coming in small steps for the UBC Okanagan Heat men who remain winless through four matches of the Canada West volleyball season.
Despite being swept by the Trinity Western Spartans at home, the Heat did manage to win their first set on Saturday in a 3-1 loss (22-25, 25-18, 25-20, 25-22).
It was a better performance than Friday’s match for the home side as the Spartans prevailed (25-19, 25-20, 25-21).
“We scored better, our numbers were better, our efficiency was higher,” Heat head coach Greg Poitras said.
On Saturday, third-year middle Jim Bell rang in a team-high 16 kills on an efficient 34 attempts to lead the Heat attack. He also put up two block assists and seven digs in the all-around effort.
Second-year outside hitter Lars Bornemann joined Bell in double-digit kill amounts with 13.
Bell was a lone spark of consistent offensive production for the Okanagan team as he posted a team-high seven kills (.263).
Fourth-year outside-hitter Tanner March was named the Heat Player of the Game.
The Heat will host the Manitoba Bisosn this weekend, Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturda at 7 p.m. at the UBCO gym.