Oxland is a Canada West All Star; Manuel is Canada West Coach of the Year

okanagan heat

February 22, 2013, Kelowna, BC (ISN) – In Emily Oxland’s first trip to the service line in her first game as a rookie setter she ripped off an ace against Thompson Rivers, setting the stage for a stellar rookie campaign.

Emily has been rewarded for her excellent season with a Canada West All-Star as she was superb in leading the UBC Okanagan Heat’s women’s volleyball team’s offense as a freshman setter.

“Emily was simply brilliant all season for us,” her coach Steve Manuel was quick to say when prompted for his thoughts on his setter’s performance on the year. “It is unbelievable to me that a rookie setter would be able to lead this young team to a 15-7 record and a tie for third place in Canada West at the end of the regular season.”

It takes a lot for a coach to trust running a team to a rookie setter but Heat head coach Steve Manuel handed his prized recruit the keys to the offense and was not disappointed by her performance. After Oxland led the team to a late-season sweep of the Bobcats, in which Manuel subbed liberally and played with different lineups, he was not at a loss for words about the rookie.

“I can’t believe how well this first year player is handling the pressure of running the offence on such a young team. I said before the season that I did not want to be starting a rookie setter, but if I have to go that route, Emily Oxland is definitely the one that I want out there.”

Coach Manuel was quick to back up his comments with numbers:

“Her stats speak volumes, first in total assists, fifth in assists per set and second in total aces in the CIS.”

The numbers are staggering, as a first year player Emily Oxland recorded 804 total assists – the highest total recorded in the country since 2008-09. Her assist per set mark was 9.14 fifth in the nation and third best in the Canada West conference.

From the service line Oxland aced her opponent 46 times (A new CW single season record) – number two in the nation and tops in Canada West, at 0.52 per set she ranks tenth in the CIS and fourth in Canada West.

Oxland was also extremely durable for her squad playing in every one of the Heat’s 88 total sets, her 88 sets played was also the most sets played by an individual across the CIS. (She actually played every single point except for a 6 point stretch on Nov 2nd).

“Emily was the difference in several matches this season; she is a leader, a true competitor and simply a winner,” sums up her coach.

Emily finished with five aces in the three set win that night in October versus Thompson Rivers, one of her many standout performances.

Another strong night from the line was in a three set win over then No. 6 Manitoba at home, the freshman from North Vancouver carved up the Bisons for six aces, to complete the weekend sweep of Manitoba.

In the Heat’s home sweep of the Calgary Dinos, both five set wins, Oxland tallied 115 assists and five aces. Those two wins put the Heat in a good position to finish top four and host a first-ever playoff series.

The future looks bright with Emily Oxland driving the Heat’s offense for the next four years for coach Manuel and the UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball team.

Steve Manuel – Canada West Coach of the Year

UBC Okanagan Heat head coach Steve Manuel has won the Coach of the Year Award in just his second year of play in the ultra-competitive Canada West conference.

Coach Manuel guided his team to a 15-7 record, nine wins better than 2011-12 and good enough for a fourth place finish with the chance to host a conference quarter-final..

With a chance at the host spot Manuel guided his team to four straight wins to close out this season knocking two teams out of the playoffs in the process. Manuel’s team’s knocked off then No. 1 Trinity Western in December and finished in the CIS top ten eight of the last nine weeks.

In his twelfth season at the helm of the Heat Manuel is no stranger to the coach of the year award, having earned that honour in five of his ten years in the BCCAA (now known as the PACWEST), and a three time winner of the national coach of the year in the CCAA (Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association).

“UBC Okanagan is very fortunate to have Steve Manuel leading our women’s volleyball program,” says Rob Johnson, director of athletics and recreation at UBC’s Okanagan campus. “He is a great example of a professional coach – thorough technical knowledge of his sport, a gifted instructor and communicator, an honest and successful recruiter, a caring mentor of his student athletes, and administratively very organized. Steve is without a doubt, one of the finest coaches in the CIS.”

Steve’s team this year finished top three in the standings, but unlike the other three teams at the top of the league his squad was not anchored by a bevy of all-stars, placing just one player on the team, in rookie setter Emily Oxland. Coach Manuel deftly used his entire roster to produce wins, going with the ‘hot hand’ and finding the right player to come in and serve at just the right time.

As Steve said his team “played by committee and won by committee.” Utilizing lineups that would mix senior players: like Alex Basso, Kendra Wayling, Jill Festival and Myrte Schön, with a strong group of young players that consistently saw floor time such as the pair of second year middle’s: Katy Klomps and Katie Wuttunee or fist year setter Emily Oxland, and he then sprinkled in stellar performances from first or second year players: Megan Festival, Brianna Beamish and Kaitlynn Given.

The Heat’s calling card this season was their defense, as Manuel rotated his two liberos, Kailin Jones and Lenai Schmidt, to produce tremendous results. As a team UBC Okanagan was fourth in digs at 13.53 per set and third in opponent’s hitting percentage at .140. The Heat were also one of the fiercest at the net, averaging 2.10 blocks per set for the season.

Things look good going forward for coach Manuel and his team as they lose only one player, Alex Basso, from this year’s squad, and will return a strong contingent of second and third year players ready to push farther in the Canada West playoffs in 2013-14 – with an eye on a chance at the final eight.

For a complete list of the Canada West women’s volleyball awards visit: