What you need to know
- In their final home action of the season, the Heat will need a couple of victories to keep their playoff hopes alive as they host the UBC Thunderbirds for a two-match set.
- Saturday night will feature as Graduating Player Night, as UBCO honours Keeley Bell and Claudia Corneil for their successes with the program.
- The defending national champion Thunderbirds are .500 on the season (10-10) and can lock up a playoff spot with a win this weekend.
- On-site in the UBCO Gym all weekend will be a Beer Garden for of-age fans.
GAME TIMES (PST)
FRIDAY, FEB 7th
SATURDAY, FEB 8th - Graduating Player Night
- With four games remaining in their regular season, UBCO sit just two games back of the Winnipeg Wesmen for the eighth and final playoff spot in the conference.
- A road trip to Calgary next weekend to face the Dinos will conclude their schedule. The Heat and Dinos are currently tied for ninth in the standings, both at 6-14.
- Calgary, losers of four straight, visit the Wesmen this weekend. Winnipeg faces the (17-3) Mount Royal Cougars in their final weekend of play.
- If UBCO can rattle off four straight wins, they'd likely land in the postseason. With three or just two wins, they'd still have a chance but would need a lot of help.
Graduating Player Night
- Following the Saturday night match, the Heat women will celebrate their two graduating players with a ceremony.
- The middle from North Vancouver is a two-time Academic All-Canadian with the Heat and will graduate with a degree in Nursing after transferring in 2017 from Capilano University.
- Bell was a star at North Vancouver's Argyle Secondary, and she has featured in 22 Canada West matches in her three seasons with the program.
- After transferring from Douglas College where her Royals took home a national silver medal in her final year with the team. The libero earned First Team All-Star.
- At UBCO for the past two seasons, Corneil has played in 44 consecutive matches for the Heat, racking up 433 digs in that time.
- Her 253 digs coming into this weekend are the eighth-most in the conference this season.
- She has had 27 digs in a match on two occasions, including last weekend in a five-set thriller against MacEwan.
- Head coach Steve Manuel has been playing around with the lineup in recent weeks, including having both setters Abigail Dueck and Natalie Livingston on the floor at the same time. This change of pace lineup has proved effective when employed.
- Also, look out for the play of Sadie Taylor-Parks and Kenzie Wallace, as both local middles are starting to get things going on the offensive end in recent matches. Taylor-Parks had seven kills last time out against MacEwan.
Head to head with the 'Birds: (3-13 in the regular season, 2-4 in the postseason)
- Last year in Vancouver it was the T-Birds who captured both matches in three sets.
- These two UBCO squads have met multiple times in the postseason, including in 2017-18 when the 'Birds knocked out the Heat in the Canada West semi-final. UBCO topped the Thunderbirds in the national bronze medal match for the Heat's only U SPORTS medal in 2016.
Looking to clinch a playoff spot
- The T-Birds can clinch a playoff spot with one victory this weekend, and the Thunderbirds could move up as high as the number five seed if they win out and get some help.
- Back-to-back three-set wins last weekend over Regina got the 'Birds back to .500. A five-match losing skid midway through their season derailed any chance of them getting a home-court advantage for the postseason.
- After capturing the U SPORTS National Championship last season, the Thunderbirds have had to deal with the loss of reigning National Player of the year, Kiera Van Ryk, who decided to leave school to play professional volleyball overseas and continue to represent Canada on the National team.
- Gabrielle Attieh has been the most productive hitter in the league from the middle this season. The junior has racked up an impressive 239 kills this season, and she also sits in the top-20 in hitting percentage (.228), along with total blocks (58).
- There's plenty of connections to the Heat on this Thunderbirds roster, as Olivia Furlan and Kayla Oxland both had older siblings who have played for UBCO in recent years. Furlan missed the entire first half of the 2019-20 season with a foot injury but has returned to her starting setter spot in recent weeks.