Dropping only two sets during the six-day event, the UBC Okanagan Heat found themselves crowned as the new queens of the 4th Annual VolleyBarbados.
In Bridgetown over the New Year, the Heat knocked off three-time defending champs, the University of Montreal Carabins, in the final Friday night at the Wildley Gymnasium in three sets, (25-22, 25-22, 25-15).
Kaitlynn Given (second year, outside hitter, Kelowna) was named MVP who UBC Okanagan Heat head coach Steve Manuel describes as “playing the most consistent volleyball over the course of the tournament,” and was a unanimous choice amongst the assembled coaches.
“We played a strong defensive tournament,” said Manuel, “a couple times we found ourselves down early in the set, yet we rallied and made impressive runs. In the first game against Montreal in the third set we were down by eight and faced set point six times before tying the game at 24, only to lose 27-25. And against Montreal in the final we were down by eight (19-11) before coming all the way back and winning 25-22.”
Four matches led to four different players of the match for UBC Okanagan with Katie Wuttunee (third year, middle, N. Vancouver), Katy Klomps (third year, middle Surrey), Emily Oxland (second year, setter, N. Vancouver), and Given each earning honours. Manuel described his team’s overall play as “strong on the block” and that they were able to “serve aggressively all week long”.
To get to the final the Heat were matched up in the semi-finals with Canada West foe, the Calgary Dinos, and won in straight sets (25-20, 25-15, 25-12). The Heat won their pool with two wins that led to a bye to the semi-finals. To open the tournament UBC Okanagan outlasted the CIS No. 2 ranked team, the Montreal Carabins, with a five set victory. The next day the Heat played grabbed a straight set victory over Calgary (25-14, 25-13, 25-17).
To reach the finals and face the Heat, Montreal defeated Deacons Volleyball Club 3-1 and Montreal in the semi-finals defeated the Brandon Bobcats 3-2
To get to the semi-final versus UBC Okanagan, Calgary defeated Bois‐de‐Boulogne College 25-19, 17-25, 25-18, 25-20 in a quarter-final crossover.
Manuel indicated that the Barbados tournament was very well run, and the competition and organization matched the spectacular weather and hospitality of the people.
He also felt that this experience well help prepare for a long second half of Canada West play, which begins in earnest as the No. 3 Heat (10-2) host the No. 1 ranked, and seven-time defending champions, the UBC Thunderbirds this weekend.
First serve for the sister-school showdown will be Friday night at 6 p.m., the rematch will hit the hardwood at the UBC’s Okanagan campus gymnasium an hour earlier, at 5 p.m.