The fourth-ranked Heat will host the Regina Cougars Friday at UBC Okanagan’s Kelowna campus gym. -Image: UBC Okanagan Heat athletics

Heat women persist among Canada’s best

Ranked fourth, UBC Okanagan has been in the top 10 in Canada since early 2014

Not since early in 2014 has the UBC Okanagan Heat been outside the top 10 in the U Sports national women’s volleyball rankings.

After a bye week, one of the country’s most consistent and successful programs in recent Canada West history returns to its home court for a pair of matches against the University of Regina Cougars.

Currently occupying the No. 4 spot, Steve Manuel’s Heat (6-2) have spent 48 consecutive ranking weeks in the same company as the best teams in Canada.

Despite the departures of top-end players such as Katy Klomps, Breanna Beamish, Katie Wuttunee, Emily Oxland and Kaitlynn Given over the last couple of seasons, the Heat program has managed to endure as one of the teams to beat in Canada West.

Led by the likes of Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Sara McCreary and Michelle Jakszuk, among others, the 2017-18 version of the Heat is carrying on the standard set down by teams of the previous three seasons—56 wins in 72 conference matches.

Manuel, who is in his 16th season as the Heat’s head coach, said much of the program’s success stems from the ongoing development and inclusion of each and every player on the UBCO roster.

“We’ve worked very hard to maintain the same level of play we’ve come to expect over the last few years,” said Manuel, whose team won a Canada West silver and national bronze medal in 2016. “As a staff, we’ve worked hard to develop our whole group, not just our stars, and we tend to play a lot of our players right from the start of the season. So when people move on, others are ready to step in and do the job when their time comes.

“It’s worked well for us.”

As for his team’s 6-2 start to the new season, Manuel said he couldn’t have asked for much more from the Heat.

“All in all, I’d say we’re doing a little better than expected,” he said. “I kind of felt with the graduation of some of key players, it might take a little while going, especially playing teams like Mount Royal and Trinity early. To be 6-2, I couldn’t ask for any more.”

The Heat look to keep their 2017-18 campaign on the winning track this weekend against the Cougars who bring a 5-5 record into Kelowna.

The teams will face off Friday at 6 p.m., then again at 5 p.m. on Saturday at UBCO’s Kelowna campus.

“They’re a very athletic and well-coached team,” Manuel said of Regina. “They’ve played well against some ranked teams early, they beat Mount Royal in a five-setter, so we expect them to be tough.”

Heat basketball…

After a week off, both UBC Okanagan basketball teams return to the hardwood this weekend in Abbosford. On Friday and Saturday, the Heat will take on the University of the Fraser Valley Cascades.

Claire Meadows’ UBCO women’s squad (0-6) will be pursuing its first win of the Canada West season against UFV (2-6).

Pete Guarasci’s Heat men have a 2-4 record, while the Cascades are 2-6.

Fourth-year Heat guard Aldrich Berrios heads into the weekend 20 points shy (980) of 1,000 for his Canada West career.

UBC Okanagan’s next home action is Dec. 1 and 2 against the Manitoba Bisons.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@capnewsports

whenderson@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Complete list of B.C. Interior wildfire coverage

Up-to-date information on blazes happening the Kamloops Wildfire Centre

Update: Wildfire crews continue to fight Okanagan Mountain Park wildfire

The wildfire across the lake from Peachland is burning at 200 hectares

Update: Wildfire near Peachland grows to 500 hectares, structures threatened

Peachland - Evacuation orders have been issued for Brent Road and Highway 97 South properties

Fire risk closes top half of Knox Mountain Drive

Vehicle traffic will not be allowed past the gate at the first lookout until conditions improve.

Interior Health wants you to protect your lungs with the smoky skies

Kelowna - With wildfires comes with the risk of smoke pollution across the Interior.

Breaking: More evacuation orders for Mount Eneas wildfire, south of Peachland

The BC Wildfire Service is battling a large wildfire alongside Highway 97 in Peachland.

Woman charged after eight dogs seized from hotel room

Sixteen dogs recently seized from Adams and her daughter in Quesnel

Campers find refuge at Penticton community centre

Campers evacuated from Okanagan Lake Provincial Park

Two families homeless after wildfire destroys two South Okanagan homes

A fire that started in the garage of one home quickly spread, destroying two homes

Ontario, Saskatchewan premiers join together to oppose federal carbon plan

Saskatchewan is already involved in a court case over the tax

For-profit ridesharing legislation long overdue: BC Conservatives

Interim party leader Scott Anderson said the provincial government should step out of the way

After cave rescue, soccer boys pray for protection at Thai temple

On Wednesday evening, the boys and coach were released from hospital

Gymnastics sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night

Fire in backcountry near Keremeos reaches 400 hectares in size

Two significant fires are burning in the Lower Similkameen, smoke can be seen as far away as Osoyoos

Most Read