When they look back on the first ever home CIS playoff series for a UBCO sports team, the women’s volleyball team may scratch their heads at what might have been.
But they will also be holding their heads high at a season that saw them host the first ever CIS playoff game at UBCO.
The Heat women dropped a quarter-final playoff to Mount Royal College late last week, losing two five set matches by two points in the final set as the Cougars Mount Royal came from behind two straight nights to stun the Heat and advance to the CIS women’s volleyball final four.
“When it was over there were some tears but we went back to how great a season it was and how great of a group of athletes and young women that we had here,” said Heat coach Steve Manuel. “That’s what we are going to take away from this year. We had an outstanding season. It exceeded expectations. We felt like we could keep it going and take it a little further but we lost two really tough matches.”
The Heat women were the first ever UBCO sports team to earn the right to host a CIS playoff series after only its second season in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport).
The series marked the final games for graduating senior Alex Basso, the Kelowna native who closed the book on an incredible collegiate career in front of family and friends on her home court.
Kelowna crowds turned out to the UBC Okanagan Gymnasium and showed solid support to the Heat volleyball women.
“We had great crowds and great support and to me that’s a catch-22,” said Manuel. You’re playing in front of friends and family and a friendly crowd but we have a young team and that’s extra stress and pressure. But I wouldn’t trade it. For us it was another huge step in our program and another huge accomplishment. And thats what we are trying to look at, all the things we accomplished.”
The UBCO Heat men’s basketball program ended its season with its fifth win of the season, 86-77 over Thompson Rivers on Saturday night.
Asked to reflect on his first season coaching the team, Heat coach Pet Guarasci was not at a loss of words: “I like this group and although the results don’t show it, just the fact that we progressed the way we progressed, there’s something about it that I feel pretty good about. Their mental focus throughout the year was always just to improve and get better in practice and get better in games. That was our goal, our goal was to improve as a team throughout the year and I think we’ve definitely accomplished that. They were a really fun group to coach and I’m really proud about the way our season progressed and how much they improved.”
It was the final game for Graduating forward Dave Mackay of Vancouver
Fifth-year guard Madison Kaneda (Vernon, BC) hit a three-pointer with three seconds left to finally put away the Thompson Rivers University Wolfpack 68-63 as the Heat women closed out its season with its sixth win of the season and sent its three graduating seniors out on a high note.
Kaneda, Melissa Irish (Victoria) and Kelowna’s Roz Huber all ended their UBCO athletic careers on the weekend.
“It’s definitely going to take a little bit to sink in,” said Huber (Kelowna, BC) when asked to reflect on final game of her career. “ “I feel so fortunate to be able to do my five years here. Everything has been more than I could have imagined. In my first year I knew that these are the friendships that you’re going to hold onto for the rest of your life. And I think this is definitely a special group.”