KAMLOOPS, BC – The Thompson Rivers University WolfPack and the University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat wanted to not only get a tune up for their Canada West season, but also show some young players what the game is like at a high level.
They did both at the Tournament Capital Centre on Friday night (Sept 25). The WolfPack are holding a 32 team senior girls tournament and had a large crowd on hand as they fell to the Heat 3-0. The scores were 25-12, 25-20, 28-26. The teams played an ‘unofficial’ fourth match which was won by UBC Okanagan 26-24.
“I really like what I see from my team,” said Heat head coach Steve Manuel. “ it is the first time we have had a veteran group in CIS. We have never had any fifth year players before with CIS experience. Now we have some vets who know what it is like to go through three or four years of CIS. They are coming in with a whole different outlook on it. They feel that they know what they are doing and they have it figured out. Every year, our players had to figure it out without any mentorship from other CIS players. It is a very different evolution and they have done an awesome job of that. I think they finally feel that ‘they are the fourth or fifth year and they know what they are doing’. They are playing with a whole lot more maturity than they have before.”
UBC Okanagan was led by Kaitlynn Given (4th year, outside hitter, Kelowna, BC) with 11 kills in 14 swings. Brianna Beamish (5th year, outside hitter, Surrey, BC) had 10 kills in 19 opportunities with three digs and two block assists. Emily Oxland (4th year, setter, North Vancouver, BC) had 25 assists.
“I was disappointed with our start,” stated TRU head coach Chad Grimm. “We came out and weren’t prepared to play. We looked a little bit nervous and our passing wasn’t good and gave up a lot of free points. Against a team like UBCO—you can’t do that.”
Grimm added: “You never know how you are going to react with your first home match so in that sense it is good it’s out of the way. In the other sense, we have a pretty veteran crew. I expect us to be ready to play from the start.”
TRU was led by Iullia Pakhomenko (4th year, outside hitter, Donetsk, Ukraine) who had 18 kills in 36 chances. Katie Woo (4th year, setter, Surrey, BC) had 22 assists.
“Obviously, Iullia had a good match,” explained Grimm. “Offensively she is a lot to handle any night. Tonight she was trying from the service line. I thought Katie started to run the offense and did a good job as well. I was impressed with how Kendra (Finch, 1st year, outside hitter, North Vancouver, BC) passed the ball for us. That was something that we struggled to find in the beginning and I thought she did a pretty good job of solidifying that.”
UBC Okanagan will return home to host the Alberta Pandas in a series of exhibitions and scrimmages. Manuel says the expectations on his club are greater this year. “But they are coming from us and not anyone on the outside. We were right there last year. Another swing or two go our way in the Canada West semifinal and we would have been off to Nationals. We lost to the eventual National champs and then we had to play UBC for the bronze medal. UBC knew what it took to go to nationals. They had been there the previous eight years in the championship final. Again, we had a crew that had never been there. It was another new experience. The expectations from the players and from me are very high. It’s coming from us and we are embracing it.”
The WolfPack will head to Langley, BC next weekend to play in the “Best of the West” tournament and have matches against Mount Royal, Trinity Western and the University of Calgary.
The Heat open up their 2015-16 Canada West season on October 16th at home against Regina. Game time is 6 pm.
~ with notes from Larry Read // Thompson Rivers Sports Information