Photo provided by UBCO Athletics
Photo provided by UBCO Athletics

Heat middle blocker Aidan Lea travelled to Taipei as a member of Team Canada ahead of her second season with UBC Okanagan

After what can only be called a breakout season in early 2017, middle blocker Aidan Lea cemented herself as not only one of the best players at UBC Okanagan, but one of the best in Canada as well.

Lea had the best hitting percentage in Canada West (.350) for the season, setting a new Heat record during her sophomore season. She also finished third in kills for the Heat with 183, averaged 2.13 per set, had 74 total blocks, and was credited with earning or contributing to 242 points. That first campaign for her at UBC Okanagan, after transferring from the University of Colorado, earned the 6’6” middle a place amongst the best in the country.

At the National Women’s Team Selection Camp in Richmond earlier this summer, Lea won a spot on the 24-woman roster representing Canada this year. On that squad, she is joined by recent UBC Okanagan graduate Brianna Beamish and former Lakers standout Marisa Field, both of whom also played under current Heat head coach Steve Manuel.

“It’s a pretty neat experience, obviously really cool to represent Canada anywhere and to get to wear the maple leaf,” said Lea in an interview earlier this summer, adding that it was “really cool as a Kelownaite because there’s actually another girl who’s on the senior national team with me, Marisa Field, who is from Kelowna and went to the same school as me, and also played for Steve, but ten years prior, so it’s cool to have that connection and just to see so much good volleyball coming out of Kelowna.”

“It’s a pretty neat experience, obviously really cool to represent Canada anywhere and to get to wear the maple leaf” – Aidan Lea

Giving another interview from the opening ceremonies for the 29th Summer Universiade in Taipei, Lea described her opportunity to represent her country and her team on the international stage and the atmosphere around it all.

“It’s great, it’s really loud, really exciting. The energy in the air is unbelievable. There’s 160 countries I think represented, and it feels insane…I had no idea how big of scale this event was…pretty crazy opportunity to have, being here.”

As the most successful of all Heat programs thus far, the women’s volleyball team earns the most attention paid even months before their first official match. With the core players of the program’s most successful years now graduated, it will fall to players like Aidan Lea and Siobhan Fitzpatrick to maintain the level of dominance that has become a part of the character of UBC Okanagan women’s volleyball.

International competition will undoubtedly help Lea handle those expectations, and thrive under the pressure that will come with them. After representing UBCO and Kelowna as well as Canada over the summer, she will come back to campus and join her Heat teammates in their chase for a fifth straight appearance in the Canada West Final Four and a second appearance in three years at the U Sports National Championships.