Heat scuttle Mariners to earn BCCAA finals berth

Greg Niemantsverdriet of Vernon netted Player of the Game with eight kills, two aces and two blocks as the UBC Okanagan Heat men’s volleyball team dismantled the Vancouver Island University Mariners 3-0 (25-21, 25-16, 25-14) in BCCAA semifinal action Friday night at UBCO Gym.

Rookie Joe Holder was VIU’s Player of the Game, finishing with six kills. 

The Heat controlled most of the match with their strong offensive frontline. Speijer and Niemantsverdriet finished with 11 and eight kills respectively. Tucker orchestrated the offence with his  phenomenal setting, earning a match-high 25 assists. 

The Heat’s defence was just as strong, with former junior national player Chris Howe notching six blocks, and fourth-year outside hitter Mark Broome adding four more. 

The Naniamo-based Mariners played in the bronze-medal game Saturday against the Douglas College Royals of New Westminster, who lost to the Columbia Bible College Bearcats of Abbotsford in their semifinal.

The Heat faced CBC in the championship game Saturday night. Both teams will advance to the CCAA National Championships in Sherbrooke, Que., March 10-12. 

Prior to the match, several BCCAA awards were presented to the Heat, with Niemantsverdriet, Nate Speijer and Vernon’s Preston Tucker being selected as first-team all-stars. Niemantsverdriet and Speijer provided a dangerous one-two punch in the Heat’s offence, finishing second and third in kills, averaging 3.69 and 3.61 kills per set, respectively. Speijer also led the league in total aces with 34. 

Tucker, a fourth-year setter, received BCCAA Player of the Year honours. Colten Litwin, the team’s starting libero, was named to the provincial all-rookie team.