If opening weekend of the Canada West season is a sign of things to come, then expect the UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball squad to once again be in the mix for a playoff spot.
Steve Manuel’s team walked into the home of Canada’s No. 1-ranked team over the weekend are earned a split with the Alberta Pandas.
On Friday, a remarkable comeback earned the Heat a five-set victory.
After losing the first two sets 25-16 and 25-18, an unlikely rally saw UBCO road back to win the next three sets, 25-20, 28-26 and 15-13.
Brianna Beamish had huge game for the Heat finishing with a game-high 21 kills, 13 digs, and two blocks. Megan Festival led the way in digs (24) and was second in kills with 12.
Katy Klomps added 10 kills, while Katie Wuttunee, who closed out the final point with a block, led the team in blocks six and added eight kills.
On Saturday, UBCO couldn’t repeat the same magic, as Alberta prevailed in four sets (25-22, 21-15, 25-10, 25-21).
The Heat were paced by Festival’s 15 kills, and 12 more from Wuttunee.
Despite Saturday’s result, coach Steve Manuel was pleased with the Heat’s effort.
“To sum things up it was a very good weekend,” Manuel said of the Heat’s first ever win on Alberta’s court. “We had limited preseason play and with a couple of injuries early on it was the first time we had everyone in the lineup. Our squad showed incredible resilience on Friday and fought to the end. We will take the split on the road against a tough Pandas team.
“Bottom line,” added Manuel, “is that we played the number one team in Canada in their gym and came away with a split.”
The Heat will play its home openers this weekend at Trinity Western. On Friday at the Kelowna campus gym, first serve is 6 p.m. Saturday’s game goes at 5 p.m.
The UBC Okanagan men couldn’t offer enough resistance against Alberta, as the Golden Bears swept the opening weekend set of Canada West action in Edmonton.
On Friday, the Bears were winners in straight sets (25-16, 25-22, 25-20).
In spite of the score the Heat did receive some positive performances, as third year middle Jim Bell was effective on the attack with 10 kills, four digs, and three blocks for 11.5 points to lead the team. Alex Swiatlowski finished with nine kills.
On Saturday, the Heat was better at the service line but still fell in three sets (25-21, 25-20, 25-20) to the Golden Bears.
The Heat was fueled by 11 kills from Swiatlowski, while Bell chipped in with nine more, as the two juniors led the way again.
UBC Okanagan (0-2) is back on the court this weekend for its home openers against the Trinity Western Spartans.
The two sides battle at 8 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. on Saturday at the UBCO gym.