Two new recruits add height, and depth, to the Heat women's volleyball squad.
Training camp wrapped up last week and coach Steve Manuel, who has been at the reigns 19 years, is singing the praises of his long-distance recruits—Brazil's Hellen Lacava and Manitoba's Abigail (Abi) Dueck.
Outside hitter Lacava, is a six-foot one Brazilian state and national champion. Her skills, combined with Dueck's setting abilities, are the ammunition Manuel has an eye on to reload the UBC Okanagan team.
Dueck will bring her setting skills to the Okanagan after a long successful run in Manitoba at the high school and club level. Lacava played last year with Salt Lake Community College in the South Western Athletic Conference racking up 302 kills on the season.
"Although coming to us from different backgrounds and bringing different skills to the team, both of these incoming recruits have a chance to make a noticeable impact on the court and on our roster this year, and in the future," explained Manuel.
Hailing from Mandaguari Brazil, Lacava will bring her international experience and some leadership to next year's squad. With Salt Lake last season, she was able to rack up 302 kills in 91 sets along with 265 digs and 34 service aces and helped her team to a 26-4 record.
The right-handed, outside hitter will enter the Faculty of Applied Science with a focus on civil engineering, and hopes to have a professional volleyball career while also working as an engineer.
"I chose UBC Okanagan because it has a great engineering program and a competitive volleyball team. This is all I want to start a successful preparation for my career," said Lacava.
"I am extremely excited to be a member of the Heat," she continued. "Before I started my studies abroad, UBCO was the school I was always aiming for. I cannot wait to live in a different place, to know a new culture and to work with the amazing team and coaches I have met."
As a developing player in Brazil, Lacava won multiple provincial and national club championships. Leading those teams to titles, she was named the best player at five provincial or national championships.
"Lacava brings an exciting element to our program," adds Manuel. "She has unbelievable ball control skills and has a great presence on the court. I am excited to see her develop over these next few seasons and I believe that there is a lot that we can learn from her."
From Winnipeg, Dueck played her high school at the Institute Collégial Vincent Massey Collegiate and starred at the club level for the Junior Bisons.
In 2017, while Dueck was playing for the junior Bisons, the team captured Manitoba Provincial gold and Western Canada Gold in the same year. They continued their dominance in 2018, repeating as provincial champions, capping off the year with another Canadian national championship.
Dueck will be in the science program at UBCO with the hopes of transitioning into a career of environmental sciences.
Excited to take advantage of the smaller class sizes, Dueck explained that UBCO's "smaller student population combined with high-quality academics," was key for her.
"The Okanagan has been like a second home for me as my extended family lives there. It has been my dream to play at a university level and I am so lucky to do so at UBCO. Being part of the team will be an amazing opportunity as I will be surrounded by incredible athletes and coaches, and I look forward to the work ahead," said Dueck.
Dueck, just like Lacava, comes from a family of volleyball success. Rudy Dueck, her father, played for the Canadian National B team and won two national championships with the University of Winnipeg.
"We are very excited to have Dueck join our Heat family," says Manuel. "Her work ethic and volleyball knowledge will be great assets to our program. Coming from an accomplished club team, and having received great coaching, she has all the tools to be successful at the university level.
These two newcomers will join Amaya Perry as impact signings for the Heat women's team for the upcoming season. The Canada West season starts for UBCO on October 18 in Regina. The first home match is October 25 against the Alberta Pandas.