Just how tough are the UBC Okanagan Heat on their own court ?
Visiting teams at this week’s BCCAA men’s and women’s volleyball championships might want to avoid looking at the numbers.
The No. 1-ranked Heat men haven’t dropped a match on their home floor since Nov. 8, 2008, a span of 19 straight matches.
The two-time national champion Heat women’s lack of charity to opposing teams goes back even further, not having lost at the Kelowna campus gym since Nov. 2007 when they were known as the Okanagan Lakers.
Heat coach Greg Poitras looks for his men’s team to make the most of the partisan surroundings this week at provincials.
“We have a pretty good record in our building, so it’s no secret how much we enjoy playing here,” said Poitras. “We usually hold our home court, even against the top teams, so it’s a good place for us.
“We’re looking forward to putting on a show for the great fans we have,” he added,” and to keep the streak going.”
By virtue of their first place finish in the BCCAA, the Heat men (13-1) have a first round bye on Thursday. On Friday, they will battle either Vancouver Island University or College of the Rockies in the semifinals.
The favoured UBCO women (13-1)—trying for a provincial three-peat—also have a bye into Friday’s semis where they will battle the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between Fraser Valley and Camosun.
Even with all of their successes of the past two seasons, Heat coach Steve Manuel said his squad is as motivated as ever to add yet another B.C. title to the school’s volleyball legacy.
“We have seven returning players from last year’s nationals and four of them were here two years ago,” said Manuel. “Every one of them is hungry to do this again, and nothing less than winning provincials and nationals will satisfy them.
“Our newer players are excited to be part of this, and they want to taste it, too,” he continued. “Every team is a little different each year, but this group’s will to win remains the same.”
Unlike the women, the men are still in search of their first national championship.
That, in itself, said Poitras, is more than enough motivation for his Heat squad to take care of business this weekend.
And while UBC Okanagan’s move into the CIS for next season continues to generate plenty of excitement on campus, Poitras said his team remains firmly focused on the task at hand.
“We’re all naturally excited about that, but the (Canada West) situation is on the back burner right now,” said Poitras. “We haven’t been talking about next September at all. We’ve never won a national championship, so that’s what we’re focusing on. There’s a banner we want and there’s some work to do. The guys are pretty committed to what’s in front of us over the next few weeks.”
The top two teams in each of the men’s and women’s BCCAA tournaments will qualify for the CCAA national championships next month.
The men’s nationals are set for March 10 to 12 in Sherbrooke, Que.
The women’s nationals will be contested at the same time in St. John, N.B