by Cary Mellon
February 22, 2014, VANCOUVER, BC (ISN) – Megan Festival (2nd year, Calgary, AB) and Brianna Beamish (3rd year, Surrey, BC) would team up for 26 kills in the Heat women’s volleyball bronze medal match versus Trinity Western, but Sophie Carpentier’s 19 kills and 14 total blocks for the Spartans saw Trinity earn the 3-1 (18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 25-14) victory Saturday evening to send the Spartans to the CIS National Championship.
“It was really close, and we battled well,” explained Heat head coach Steve Manuel following the bronze medal match. “We just couldn’t keep up the consistency for long enough.”
The third set proved to be the deciding factor in the game for UBC Okanagan. A Beamish kill would give the Heat the 24-22 lead, but the defending CIS National Championship bronze medallists would fight off set point to tie the game at 24-24. Carpentier would give Trinity the lead at 25-24, and Casie Gano would complete the comeback with a kill of her own to win the set 26-24 for the Spartans.
“We did an awesome job responding in that third set after the second [set],” said Manuel. “Had it gone our way, it could have been an entirely different match.”
UBC Okanagan would continue to battle with Trinity in the fourth set, but sensing the victory was in hand, the veteran Spartans would keep the pressure on the youthful Heat, playing their best defensive set of the match and holding the Heat to only eight kills to give Trinity Western the set victory 25-14.
“We just stopped executing what we had to do,” added Manuel. “I think it just came down to a little bit of inexperience and nerves.”
Megan Festival would finish the game with 15 kills and eight digs, while Beamish had 11 kills for a Canada West Final Four tournament total of 24. Lenai Schmidt (5th year, Vernon, BC), playing in the final game of her career, had 15 of the Heat’s 45 total digs.
Behind Carpentier’s 19 kills, the Trinity Western offense was relatively non-existent, as the Heat did an excellent job of frustrating Alicia Perrin and Royal Richardson, who combined for only six kills on 28 attempts.
“I have nothing to say other than that I am extremely proud of this team and how they played,” said Manuel. “We have had a 100% tougher schedule for the last two months than anyone in the country, and not just by a little but by a lot. It’s been a complete and utter grind, and we just came out a little short tonight. I have nothing but positive things to say tonight about the team and their performance this season.”
The win will see Trinity Western advance to the CIS National Championship, where the Spartans have won bronze two of the past three years. The loss will end what has been an outstanding season for a UBC Okanagan team in just their third season in Canada West. Peaking at No. 3 in the nation on Jan 7, 2014, the Heat not only made the playoffs for the second year in three Canada West seasons, they also won their first playoff series in school history to make their first Canada West Final Four.
Although the loss will sting for some time, Manuel was quick to put things into perspective.
“We have done better in our first three years in the CIS than any one in the history of the league,” Manuel explained. “We are extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished, and we can believe we can do more and we will do more.”
Manuel continued, “I believe what we’ve done so far, I think, has been…spectacular…if I can say that word. From our fight, consistency, and how we’ve built this program in just a short time in this league.”
Thus concludes a tremendous season for the UBC Okanagan Heat, and Manuel is already looking forward to the next one.
“Look out everyone, we’re coming back strong next year.”
HEAT NOTES: Perspective on the Heat’s remarkable success in just three years in Canada West the UBC Okanagan Heat have won over half of their conference games. Today’s opponent, the Spartans, joined Canada West in 1999 and they did not even their record (as many wins as losses) until this season. It took Trinity 15 years and nearly 300 conference matches to reach .500. They did so on Jan 11, 2014 when they defeated Mount Royal to total 149 wins and 149 losses. The Heat’s record in three years is 33-31, two games above the magical .500.