Calgary, AB – "I'm excited for this team and for the upcoming season," were the words the long-time coach of the UBC Okanagan women's volleyball coach Steve Manuel stated in the locker room following the final exhibition match on Saturday night.
The match, a 3-1 loss to the University of Calgary would seemingly cause a coach to panic as his squad, a likely preseason favourite to return to the U SPORTS national championship, went though their exhibition schedule without recording a victory.
But Manuel, the two-time U SPORTS coach of the year, explained that although not picking up a win was unfortunate and definitely not part of grand plan, was also not something to view as a precursor for an off season.
"Two key things about the fall for our team," explained Manuel, "Our preseason was designed to have us playing the strongest teams in the country, which we did, playing the likes of Alberta and Calgary - both teams will be on the short list for potential national champions - for matches this fall."
Manuel scheduled those matches knowing that they would be farther along in their season prep then his team would be, regardless the team played the top competition tough utilizing the full contingent of the roster.
"Our September schedule had to change last minute but instead of a full fall schedule we will be building all year long with strong competition at the December break. You have to remember season is a marathon, not a sprint."
Looking to continue improving as the calendar turns, the Heat will have the University of Montreal spend nearly a week in the Okanagan training and scrimmaging together in late December. Montreal has been the class of the RSEQ for well over a decade now and a likely team to be at the national championship in March.
The strength of the schedule and the way the team played on Saturday night in Calgary has Manuel excited for the upcoming season.
The Heat only played five official matches in preparation for this week's season conference opener in Edmonton where the Heat play two against the MacEwan Griffins.
This past weekend in Calgary the Heat faced the Calgary Dinos twice, dropping both, on Thursday in three sets and on Saturday night in four sets, both matches on the U of C home court.
Scrimmaging with teams more than playing official matches, the only other scores for UBCO had the team in Kamloops where they lost to Mount Royal (3-0), MacEwan (3-1) and the Alberta Pandas (3-1).
The season opener at MacEwan University is set for a 5 p.m. PT first serve.
The CW home opener for UBCO will be the following weekend, Friday (Oct. 26) starting at 6 p.m.