RECAP: Heat start strong in exhibition play against rival TRU

In Kamloops the UBC Okanagan women's volleyball team took out their hosts and rival WolfPack in four sets. (20-25, 25-18, 25-17, 25-19).
Image Credit: Contributed/UBCO

KAMLOOPS - The UBC Okanagan Heat defeated the Thompson Rivers WolfPack in a women’s volleyball exhibition match Friday, Sept. 23. 

The Heat took the match 3-1. The WolfPack took the first set 25-20, but UBC Okanagan won the next three straight by scores of 25-18, 25-17, and 25-19.

The pre-season contest was played on the Warner Rentals court at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops, B.C.

The UBC Okanagan offence was led by fifth year Megan Festival, fourth year Michelle Jakszuk, and third year Siobhan Fitzpatrick. Those three outside hitters earned 10, 9, and 7 kills respectively in the match.

Thompson Rivers’ attack was headed up by fifth year outside hitter Iullia Pakhomenko, with 14 kills, and third year outside hitter Rachel Windhorst, who earned 11 kills. Freshman WolfPack setter Abbey Spratt also led the match in assists, with 26.

Heat head coach Steve Manuel said after the match, “I liked to see how we battled down the stretch…In a couple of sets we got down.” He added, talking about his team’s pre-season performance, “We are still trying to find our identity. We are a fairly new group. It took us a while to play like a team. Sometimes it takes a little more than a few sets: sometimes it takes a whole season. What I liked to see is that as we got rolling we played more like a team. Sometimes the contact wasn’t what we wanted it to be but they supported each other out there.”

Asked how this year’s team will compare to last season’s national bronze medal-winning side, Manuel said, “We are on par. It will be a slower process for us this year… Our exhibition schedule is heavier later on. We are going to take it nice and slow with this team.” He added, on starting the pre-season against a perennial contender, “I have TRU in my books as one of the teams that is going to ‘be there.’ I am happy with how the girls played tonight.”

The elder Heat players will undoubtedly play a key role on a team that graduated six players after the 2015-16 season. “We have some veterans,” said Manuel. “Megan (Festival) is a warrior. She played very well tonight and was a stabilizing force. I liked what I am seeing from our (fifth year) setter Emily Oxland…She has a bunch of new weapons out there and she is trying to figure out how to use them.” The Heat coach also added, on a highlight of Friday night’s match, “The serving run (8-0 in the fourth set) by Michelle (Jakszuk) was unbelievable.”

The Heat volleyball women will play next in an intra-squad match during the Royal Visit to the UBC Okanagan campus on Tuesday, Sept. 27. They will then play in an exhibition tournament at the University of Ottawa Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, and will take part in a number of training sessions with the University of Alberta in Canmore from Oct. 21 to 23 before getting their regular season underway on Friday, Oct. 28 when they will host the Brandon University Bobcats.

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