In just their second season of CIS competition, the UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball squad is headed for the playoffs.
With a weekend sweep of the hometown University of Winnipeg Wesmen, and with one week remaining, the Heat (13-7) have sewed up no worse than a fifth-place finish in Canada West. Seven teams make the post-season.
On Friday, showed their resilience once again, roaring back from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Wesmen 3-2 (23-25, 22-25, 26-24, 25-19, 15-6).
In the second set, trailing 14-11, Heat coach Steve Manuel inserted Brianna Beamish into the game and, along with outside hitter Megan Festival, was instrumental in the comeback. Beamish would finish with 11 kills, while Festival put in the best game of her promising young career with 18 kills.
With Kaitlynn Given and Lenai Schmidt also playing key roles, the Heat showed their depth. “With four new players in the lineup, we played extremely well,” said Manuel.
On Saturday, the Heat used four sets to take down Winnipeg, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22, 26-24.
Katie Wuttunee had a big night with 11 kills and five blocks, Given had eight kills and 15 digs, while Megan Festival provided another 11 kills for 29 on the weekend.
Rookie setter Emily Oxland was again a major factor with 51 assists. She has 724 for the season, the most in the nation and fifth best pr-game average (9.05).
“I can’t believe how well this first year player is handling the pressure of running the offence on such a young team,”Manuel said. “I said before the season that I did not want to be starting a rookie setter, but if I had to that Emily Oxland is definitely the one that I want doing it.”
The Heat will close out the regular season this weekend at home, with games Friday and Saturday against the University of Brandon.
The UBC Okanagan men didn’t have an answer for the University of Winnipeg as the hometown Wesmen swept a weekend set of Canada West matches from the Heat.
On Friday, Winnipeg pounded out a 3-0 win (25-19,25-19,25-23).
Greg Niemantsverdriet finished the game with 11 kills on 36 attempts for the Heat, while Jon Russo chipped in eight kills and four digs. As a team, the Heat was only able to combine for a .082 kill percentage.
On Saturday, head coach Greg Poitras shook up the starting lineup, but the result was the same in a 3-0 loss (25-21, 25-19, 25-22).
Russo once again led the Heat is scoring, contributing 12 kills on the night while enjoying a solid .296 kill percentage.
“Jon (Russo) was once against our best attacker,” Poitras said following the match. “He was presented with some tough situations and grinded out a bunch of kills for us.”
This weekend, the Heat (2-18) will host Brandon for two matches.
On Saturday, the Heat will honour the three graduating members of the squad—Brett Uniat, Riley McFarland and Jeremy Kler.