The University of British Columbia

Volleyball teams set to host top-ranked Spartans to close out regular season

(L-R) Sara McCreary, Sadie Taylor-Parks, Mackenzie Wallace, Caleb Funk, Max Heppell, Morgan Nichols and Eli Risso will be honoured for their time with the Heat on Saturday
(L-R) Sara McCreary, Sadie Taylor-Parks, Mackenzie Wallace, Caleb Funk, Max Heppell, Morgan Nichols and Eli Risso will be honoured for their time with the Heat on Saturday

KELOWNA, B.C. – The UBC Okanagan Heat volleyball teams will close out their regular season schedule this weekend as they host the top-ranked Trinity Western Spartans at The Furnace on Friday and Saturday.

Friday's games get underway at 6 p.m. for the women and 8 p.m. for the men, followed by a 3 p.m. start time for the women on Saturday and 6 p.m. for the men.

Both UBCO teams will have to deal with the No. 1 team in the country this weekend as the Spartans lead the U SPORTS rankings on both the women's and men's sides.

The Heat women enter their weekend tied for second place in the West division with an 8-6 record and will be hoping to leap-frog UBC (8-6) heading into the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Spartans hold a 13-1 mark and have won 10 straight games, including a sweep of the Heat in straight sets earlier this month.

In men's action, UBCO enters the final weekend of the regular season sitting at a .500 record, 7-7. UBCO is firmly entrenched as the third seed in the West division, trailing UBC (9-5) by two games while sitting two games up on Thompson Rivers (5-9). As for the Spartans, they are a perfect 14-0 this season but were given all they could handle by the Heat earlier this month as UBCO took them to a fifth set in their first meeting of the year.

With the regular season wrapping up, the Heat will recognize their graduating seniors during Saturday's action.

The women's team will honour their three graduating seniors, Sara McCreary, Sadie Taylor-Parks and Mackenzie Wallace, at the conclusion of Saturday's matchup.

McCreary, a native of Edmonton who is working towards her Master's of Health and Exercise Sciences degree, is one of the top setters in team history, ranking second all-time in career assists with 1538.

Taylor-Parks, a Kelowna, B.C., native, has been a heart and soul member of the squad since 2017-18, posting 167 kills and 146 blocks during her career. She is wrapping up her Arts degree at the conclusion of the season.

As for Wallace, the Lake Country, B.C., product, who will be graduating with a Science degree, she concludes her career with the Heat having appeared in 78 sets, recording 33 kills and 43 blocks.

The women's ceremony, the men's team will recognize their four graduating seniors, Caleb Funk, Max Heppell, Morgan Nichols and Eli Risso, starting no earlier than 5:15 p.m.

Funk, a Strathmore, Alta., native, has played parts of three seasons for the Heat, dating back to 2017-18. Graduating with an Arts degree, Funk has recorded 169 kills and 143 blocks in 49 matches.

Heppell, originally from Langley, B.C., and about to earn his Management degree, leaves UBCO as one of the top outside hitters in program history. Currently ranked fourth all-time for career kills, he needs 25 this weekend to move into second all-time in program history.

Nichols, a Bracebridge, Ont., native, is wrapping up his Arts degree after playing four seasons for the Heat. Another top setter in team history, his 1082 assists rank him second all-time with UBCO.

Finally, Risso, a Kelowna, B.C., product, closes out a career that began in 2015-16. Graduating with a Management degree, Risso is the Heat's all-time leader in career digs with 984 while his 366 sets played is second most all-time.

Tickets for both games can be purchased at the door upon arrival to the UBCO Gymnasium and with the recent change in public health orders, capacity for the game will be 100 percent. However, a valid proof of vaccination QR code from the BC or Federal government is still required to enter the facility and masks must also be also be worn when not actively eating or drinking.