UBC's Okanagan campus, Kelowna, BC
UBC Okanagan Heat def. the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-21)
KELOWNA, BC - The UBC Okanagan Heat’s momentum from last night’s sweep of the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack continued tonight. The Heat locked up a first ever berth in the Canada West playoffs in their first year in Canada West when they dropped the ‘Pack in three sets for a second straight night (25-16, 25-12, 25-20) at UBC’s Okanagan campus tonight in Kelowna.
Heat head coach Greg Poitras was ecstatic about his team's playoff berth. "The goal we’ve had all season was to make playoffs,” recounted Poitras. “To be able to come here and play that high level of volleyball against our interior rivals was fantastic for our guys. The guys just played free. They played loose and they were so confident. They were sharp from start to finish."
Heat outside hitter Greg Niemantsverdriet (3rd year, Vernon, BC) had an outstanding game with a game high 16 kills on the match, lethal on offense as he was good on half of his attacks (.500 hitting percentage). Second for the Heat in kills was outside hitter Riley McFarland (4th year, Surrey, BC), who leveled 12 kills and had a .556 hitting percentage. As a team the Heat were very effective with a team .481 attack percentage. Team captain and setter Preston Tucker (5th year, Vernon, BC) put up 33 assists and eight digs in his last regular season game as a fifth year senior.
"It hasn’t really hit me yet but this was a great way to go out [of the regular season], that’s for sure,” noted Heat graduate Spencer Brown. “It was a great crowd, lots of support, and to finish with a win on our last game at home was pretty awesome. I like where we’re sitting right now; we’ve got a lot of momentum going and it seems like we’re peaking at the right time.”
The Heat say goodbye to three outstanding players tonight: Mark Broome (5th year, Kelowna, BC), Spencer Brown (5th year, West Kelowna, BC) and Preston Tucker (5th year, Vernon, BC). “They’ve contributed so much,” reflected Poitras. “That was probably one of the best delivery matches for Preston [Tucker] I’ve seen all year. He’d set the ball and I’d turn to the coach staff and say ‘he just nailed that set’. Mark with his energy and blocking too, just a fantastic effort."
“It was a great end to a very long career,” said graduate Mark Broome. “It was a big win, to make playoffs, especially for the team and the program in our first year of CIS. The boys played great. Preston and Spencer played amazing as well. I think it's the whole team effort. We played our game and controlled the ball from start to finish. I think we accomplished what we set out to do at the start of the year.”
The ‘Pack’s Aleks Saddlemyer (5th year, Sidney, BC) put down a team high seven kills tonight. Setter Mike Hawkins (5th year, Lethbridge, AB) put up 16 assists for the WolfPack tonight. Mohamed Rehim (1st year, Cairo, Egypt) contributed five kills for his team.
“They’re going to need their rest,” commented Poitras of the players, looking into next weekend. “We have to get our heads thinking about the Bisons pretty quick here. It’s a quick turnaround. There’s not much time to do anything, just got to celebrate, relax, and then go and beat the Bisons.”
With the UBC Okanagan win they have qualified for the first round of the Canada West playoffs and will open up their playoff series against No. 2 Manitoba in Winnipeg Thursday Feb. 16, game time TBA. The Heat improve to 8-12 to finish their Canada West regular season and the ‘Pack close out the 2011-12 regular season with a 3-17 record.
HEAT NOTES: UBC Okanagan on the night only made 9 attack errors and as a team scored on 48.1 percent of attacks…With completion of the regular season (not withstanding two OUAA matches tomorrow afternoon) Nate Speijer (4th year, Penticton, BC) and Riley McFarland were two of the best attackers in the country. McFarland was 17th at 3.32 kills per set, Speijer 5th in the nation with 3.98 kills per set…Preston Tucker finished 9th in the nation with 9.93 assists per set.