OTTAWA, ON — The Gee-Gee’s 40th Annual Pre-Season Classic saw the UBC Okanagan Heat take down all comers over three days of competition in Ottawa.
In a week that started with a once in a lifetime chance to play for and meet with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in the UBC Okanagan gymnasium in front of a standing room only crowd of students and the nation and world on camera the Heat women’s Tuesday will be one they will never forget.
The week ended on Sunday afternoon in Ottawa, Ont. when the Heat further cemented their status as a national powerhouse down the road from Parliament. In the second tournament of their pre-season, the Heat improved to 7-0 in exhibition matches leading up to the 2016-17 Canada West campaign by going undefeated in five matches at the Montpetit Hall on the University of Ottawa campus.
Early Wednesday morning the reigning national bronze medalists flew to Ottawa and found time to meet with Kelowna-Lake Country MP Stephen Fuhr and were treated to a tour of Parliament and attend question period.
UBC Okanagan’s opening match at the tournament resulted in a 2-1 win over the team from Acadia University Friday morning, with set scores of 24-26, 25-11, 25-21. The Heat dropped the first set in their second match Friday afternoon as well, 23-25, before taking the next two 25-21 and 25-12 to win 2-1 against Sherbrooke University.
Saturday morning, the Heat shut out the team from Guelph 2-0, taking the sets 25-18, 25-16, then took down the hometown University of Ottawa 2-1 (16-25, 25-18, 25-20) Saturday afternoon in their final match of pool play.
The only five-set match of the tournament was the championship match Sunday morning, which UBC Okanagan won 3-2 over the side from McMaster. McMaster pushed the Heat to their closest finish of the pre-season thus far. UBCO had to come all the way back from being 3-points away from the match in the fourth (17-22) to outscoring the Marauders (9-4) to push the match to the fifth. Set scores for the back-and-forth match were 25-21, 19-25, 17-25, 28-26, and 15-12.
Senior Heat power hitter and Heat captain Megan Festival said of the experience, “It was a really exciting trip and I think our team gained a lot from it. We got to tour parliament with our M.P. Stephen Fuhr, and see the Famous Five Monument. It was a huge reminder that women had been considered persons for only the last 87 years!” Link to the Heat’s Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BK9s6cfBhoz/ on the ‘Women are Persons!’ post.
Festival continued, talking specifically about the tournament, “The volleyball was also a very high level and the east coast style of play was fast and aggressive, which was a great challenge for us. The finals were very tense and competitive but we saw a glimpse of what our team is capable of and that was exciting.”
That final match was the only one of the weekend in which the Heat were forced to win in a real comeback fashion, after sweeping through pool play.
Freshman Heat setter Sara McCreary was able to talk about the whole experience from a newcomer’s perspective. “This is only my second trip with the team,” said McCreary, “and I can already tell how great of a season we have ahead of us. The volleyball here (in Ottawa) was insane, the level of play for preseason was awesome which makes me that much more excited to see what we can do in the upcoming months.”
The Heat will participate in their next preseason event in three weeks, when they travel to Canmore for a weekend of training with the University of Alberta from Friday, October 21 through Sunday, October 23.
This upcoming weekend (Oct. 7-8) is the 23rd Annual Ogopogo Classic High School Senior Girls Volleyball tournament officiated by the UBC Okanagan volleyball players.