-Image: Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography The Heat women will host the defending champion UBC Thunderbirds to open the Canada West season. -Image: Ken Reid/Greystoke Photography

Heat women to open vs national champs

UBC Okanagan’s Canada West volleyball season kicks off against UBC Thunderbirds on Oct. 20

With four straight appearances in the Canada West Final Four, it’s little surprise when the UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball team heads into a match as the favourite.

That will change on opening weekend of the 2017-18 Canada West season when the Heat take on the defending conference and U Sports national champion UBC Tunderbirds.

The rivals and sisters schools will meet Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21 at Kelowna’s UBC Okanagan campus.

The UBC Okanagan men also open their season the same two nights against the visiting Thunderbirds.

The schedule doesn’t get easier for UBC Okanagan in week two as the Heat head out on the road to face the Trinity Western Spartans, Oct. 27 and 28 in Langley. TWU is the defending national women’s bronze medalist and a perennial contender in Canada West.

This season marks a significant change to the Canada West volleyball format, as the number of playoff teams will increase from seven to eight, with best-of-three quarterfinals and semifinals leading to a single-game championship.

The conference eliminated the CW Final Four tournament in favour of a one-game championship hosted by the highest remaining seed through a vote of the membership earlier this year.

Additionally, if a third conference berth to nationals must be determined, the higher team to have lost in the semis will host the bronze medal game.

The changes replace the existing four-team championship tournaments, which had been in place since 2002-03.

The season all leads to the U SPORTS national tournaments, which are slated for March 15 to 18.

Université Laval in Quebec City will host the women’s tourney.

See the Heat women’s schedule here and the Heat men’s schedule here.