How a team responds to a setback can say a lot about their character. And judging by the response put forth by the University of Brandon men’s volleyball team, this is indeed a team full of character.
The Bobcats are sitting pretty in first place in the Canada West Universities Athletics Association standings with a 14-2 record. They’re also the first team to lock up a playoff spot.
Those two losses came at the hands of second-place Mount Royal back on Nov. 9 and 10. Since then the No. 1-ranked Bobcats have not only gone undefeated, they’ve only lost one set, which came this past weekend when they met and defeated the No. 4-ranked University of Alberta Golden Bears 3-0, 3-1. The Golden Bears are not a team that usually gets swept on their home court, so this was indeed a memorable victory for the Bobcats.
Entering the game the Golden Bears were holding down first place with a 12-2 record. Fourth-year player Seth Green earned Canada West third star honors for his performance in this series, highlighted by 20 kills and no errors in their first 3-0 win over Alberta.
Between the two losses to Mount Royal and the recent victory over Alberta, Brandon rattled off 3-0 sweeps over Trinity Western, University of Manitoba, UBC Okanagan, and the University of Calgary.
As a team the Bobcats lead Canada West in several categories, including hitting percentage (.347), and points per set (17.5).
Individually, the Bobcats have two of the top three players for hitting percentage – Elliott Viles (second, .377 per cent), and Robin Baghdady (third, .368 per cent). Baghdady is also second in service aces per set with 0.55. Brandon’s Mason Metcalf is second in blocks per set with 1.21, and Reece Dixon leads all Canada West players in assists per set with 11.44.
The Bobcats will aim to keep the good times rolling this weekend when they play a home-and-home series against the University of Winnipeg. The action starts Friday in Winnipeg, with the return game taking place Saturday at 6:45 p.m. in Brandon.
The University of Winnipeg is just on the outside of teams looking to get into the Canada West playoffs, which get under way in less than a month. The top eight teams make the playoffs, with No. 1 facing No. 8, No. 2 facing No. 7 and so on. The University of Manitoba Bisons currently hold the eighth and final playoff spot, setting up an intriguing inter-provincial first-round matchup between BU and U of M.
The University of Winnipeg sits in 10th place, four games back of the Bisons with two games in hand. In between sits UBC. Sitting in seventh place, tied with the U of M, is Thompson Rivers, another potential first-round opponent for the Brandon Bobcats. They also happen to be their second-last opponent of the regular season (Feb. 1 and 2).
The University of Brandon will host 11th place MacEwan Feb. 15 and 16 to end the regular season, with the first-round of the playoffs slated for Feb. 21-24.