By Warren Henderson – Kelowna Capital News
Published: December 27, 2011 2:00 AM
The UBC Okanagan Heat volleyball and basketball teams bid a fond farewell to the BCCAA in the spring of 2011 as the institution prepared for its move into Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
Both volleyball squads went out in style as the men and women each captured the provincial titles in February on their home court in Kelowna.
With 1,200 hometown fans watching, Greg Poitras’s UBCO men’s squad took Columbia Bible College in four sets.
“It was a great team effort,” said Heat veteran power hitter Nate Speijer. “We talked about it a lot, we emphasized about staying together through this, not making it a one-man or two-man show. The guys all came to play. “Earlier the same night, the Heat women set the tone with their third consecutive B.C. title with a thrilling five-set win over the Vancouver Island University Mariners as setter Caitlin Nyhus capped off her stellar five year career.
“It’s been amazing, I couldn’t have asked for a better team, a better coaching staff or a better way to go out,” said Nyhus.
As both Heats teams were preparing for nationals, tragedy struck the program. UBCO men’s rookie Jordan Young was killed in a single-vehicle accident.
“He was a big part of our team,” coach Greg Poitras said of Young, 18. “It’s an unthinkable thing that’s happened to our volleyball family and to Jordan’s family.”
The Heat men battled valiantly through the tragedy and won a silver medal at nationals in Sherbrooke. Women’s coach Steve Manuel admitted his team was emotionally drained by the incident and fell short of a national three-peat by placing fourth.
The UBCO women’s basketball squad finished its life in the BCCAA with a silver medal at provincials, losing 68-67 to Capilano in the final, while the Heat men lost in the quarterfinals of provincials.
The Heat volleyball and basketball teams both made their official foray into Canada West in October.