EDMONTON – Over the May long weekend, the Jr. Heat 18U boys volleyball team put up an impressive performance at the 2022 Volleyball Canada Youth Nationals, finishing second overall and becoming the first team from the Okanagan to make it to the semifinals and Gold medal game at the tournament. The Jr. Heat squad, which includes three Heat men's volleyball incoming recruits for the 2022-23 season, went undefeated until the gold medal game.
The action opened up for the Jr. Heat on Sunday, taking the first match in two sets (25-21, 25-22) over the 18U Nexus squad from Ontario. They followed up with a 2-1 victory (27-25, 25-18, 15-12) over Elite West, and a 2-0 win (28-26, 25-21) over the Dinos.
Moving on to the Power Pool round on Monday, the squad maintained their undefeated status, once again going three-for-three. The first match of the day would result in a two-set victory over Legacy with the Jr. Heat taking the first set 25-23 and the second 25-15. The following match would go to three sets, with Essor Titans Noir taking the first set 26-28, but the Jr. Heat would respond by taking the next two sets 25-18 and 15-11 to secure the win. The final match of the Power Pool round would see the Jr. Heat facing off with the Spartans, resulting in a two-set win for the Jr. Heat (25-8, 25-17).
Starting off the Playoffs round on Tuesday, the Jr. Heat took on a fellow B.C. squad in the Chargers in the quarter-finals. The two teams would go to three sets, the first going to the Chargers 25-21 but the Jr. Heat would once again respond by taking the next two sets 25-16 and 15-12 to remain undefeated. The semifinal match up would see the Jr. Heat taking on the Canada West 18U team, resulting in another two-set victory for the Jr. Heat (25-21, 25-21). The Gold Medal match would take place later that same day, with the Jr. Heat taking on the Junior Bison 18U team. Ultimately, the undefeated Junior Bison would take the match in two sets (25-23, 25-12) as the Jr. Heat earned the silver medal.
On top of the silver medal, UBCO Heat men's volleyball incoming recruit Seba Manuel would also be recognized as one of the tournament all-stars. Also playing alongside Manuel at the Nationals tournament were two other UBCO men's volleyball recruits, Sam Jablonski and Hudson Farrell.
Jr. Heat Head Coach Paul Thiessen had this to say on his team's success:
"Our guys played their best volleyball of the season over the past three days, this is what can happen when all the stars align in your program. To see the determination and tenacity of these young men all throughout the competition was incredible to see, and most satifying was the pride they displayed and the smiles on their faces. I have been coaching at these events for over three decades, but never have a seen a better performance or result from an Okanagan team."