Heat cook up BCCAA title

Vernon power hitter Greg Niemantsverdriet and setter Preston Tucker earned tournament all-star recognition as the UBC Okanagan Heat claimed gold at the BCCAA Men’s Volleyball Championships Saturday night at UBCO Gym.

Playing in front of a near record crowd, the Heat used heavy hitting from tournament MVP Nate Speijer and Niemantsverdriet to ground the Columbia Bible College Bearcats of Abbotsford 25-19 in the first set.

Nerves and adrenaline got to the Heat, as they began over-hitting, and dropped the second set 25-21. Heat head coach Greg Poitras called a time-out to settle his team, and they responded by grounding the Bearcats 25-16 in the third set.

In the fourth set, Speijer went on a tear, using his lethal serve to collect six of the Heat’s final seven points to take it 25-17.

In women’s volleyball action, Kal Laker grad Lenai Schmidt recorded a team-high 15 digs as UBC Okanagan outlasted the Vancouver Island University Mariners of Nanaimo 3-2 (25-27, 25-19, 25-21, 20-25, 15-7) to capture their third straight BCCAA title.

Tournament MVP Caitlin Nyhus directed the Heat’s offence with 34 assists and added nine digs. UBC Okanagan’s Alex Basso and Myrte Schön earned tournament all-star selections.

The B.C. conference of the CCAA received wild cards for both the men’s and women’s teams, meaning the Bearcats and Mariners will join the UBC Okanagan squads at the national championships. The men’s tournament is hosted by Cégep de Sherbrooke Volontaires in Sherbrooke, Que., March 10-12. The women’s even goes March 10-12, at the University of New Brunswick in Saint John.