Brandon’s Jodie Baker had quite a night Saturday.
Not only did the first-year middle with the Brandon Bobcats women’s volleyball team start for the first time with her new squad, she was also recognized by the Brandon Sport Alliance as its local athlete of the year. Baker admitted she had a lot of nerves going into the game, but settled down and made four blocks and one kill — set up by her sister Kellie — as the Bobcats beat the Calgary Dinos 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-21) in Canada West action at BU’s Healthy Living Centre.
Despite leading the team in blocks, which was what BU head coach Lee Carter wanted her to focus on, Baker wasn’t overly happy with her debut as a starter.
"I don’t think I played overly well, but hopefully that’s just a nerves thing," the 18-year-old Brandonite said. "Hopefully if Lee gives me a chance to play again, I’ll do better and be able to get a couple more kills and help out that way."
Carter said he chose to start Baker over Larissa Vonkeman and Alexis Loewen because she was being honoured with the award. However, he saw a lot of positives to having her on the court. He liked her ability to block and the energy that she brought, which Brandon took advantage of early on.
"We just needed her to block and it was a good opportunity to start," Carter said. "She brought a lot of energy to the group. Anytime you get a freshman on for the first time, it brings some nervous energy."
Shanlee McLennan had a double-double for Brandon (5-5) with 10 kills and 10 digs and was also involved in two blocks. Meaghan Robertson led Brandon with 12 kills and Chloe Reimer added 10. Sarah Moncks led Calgary (4-6) with 11 kills. Brandonite Angelica Quiring finished with two kills, two blocks and one ace.
The win keeps Brandon in the seventh and final playoff spot in Canada West, but Carter knows his team’s work has just begun. The Bobcats get right back at it this Thursday when they host the Winnipeg Wesmen (2-7) and on Saturday when they travel to Winnipeg.
"We’re desperate, there’s no other way to say it," Carter said. "Last year we needed 10 (wins) and we were just out of the playoffs. We were tied for that last playoff spot, so we’re figuring on (needing) 11. We’re at five, so we have to find six. There’s two that are possible with U of W, but U of W at U of W is really good. It’s going to be some tough matches coming here and I’m looking forward to getting ready for Thursday."
CAT SCRAPS: The Brandon Sport Alliance also recognized Trista Wenger as its outstanding coach, Bill Sowiak as its outstanding official, Bruce Bell outstanding administrator and Bob Hamilton as its outstanding volunteer.