All four Brandon University Bobcat teams hope to make big statements this weekend, although for different reasons.
For the volleyball teams, who will play at the Healthy Living Centre today (women at 6 p.m., men at 7:45 p.m.) and tomorrow, it’s a chance to prove they are among the elite teams in Canada.
The BU men’s volleyball team (3-1) fell one spot to seventh in the CIS rankings after splitting their matches with the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack last week. They have a chance to increase their standing this weekend with one or two wins over the Manitoba Bisons (3-0), who are tied for third place in the CIS rankings.
For head coach Grant Wilson, it’s more important to make a statement that they won’t fade during a match like they did last week.
“We want to come out and be better than we were last weekend and play as well as we can,” he said. “If we can do that, we certainly think we have a chance to win.”
Meanwhile, the BU women’s volleyball team is looking to crack the CIS top 10. The Bobcats (3-1) are currently ranked 11th in the country, but know they’ve had easier opponents in their first two matches.
That won’t be the case this weekend when the fourth-ranked Bisons (3-0) come to the Healthy Living Centre. BU head coach Lee Carter knows the Bisons will be tough, but he expects a lot of his players to be familiar with their players from their days in high school, which he hopes will give Brandon an edge.
“I think because it’s Manitoba and the girls know each other so well, it won’t be hard to get up for the game,” he said. “We’re quite confident with those girls. Crocus has played against those girls all the way through high school and they know each other. It will be a fun match. … The most important thing is to stay focused and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
While the volleyball teams are looking to improve their rankings, the basketball teams are searching for their first wins of the season when they visit Manitoba today and Saturday.
The men’s team (0-2) was without fifth-year guard Emerick Ravier and fourth-year forward Isaiah James — both of whom head coach Gil Cheung hoped would lead the team in scoring this season — in their season-opening losses last week, and they will be without them this weekend, which isn’t good for a team that’s struggling to score.
This will also be Brandon’s third and fourth straight road games to open the season, and Cheung is already itching to get in the win column. He thinks that can happen against Manitoba (1-1) if his squad plays well.
“We’re going to a hostile environment at U of M and hopefully we’ll have a good performance,” he said.
This weekend may be the best chance for the BU women’s basketball team (0-2) to snap their 47-game losing streak, as the Bisons (0-2), who they visit, were the second-worst team in Canada West according to pre-season polls.
While head coach Novell Thomas would love to get his first win as head coach, his goal is for his team to get used to the new system.
“We’re not looking at the outcome, but we just want to be offensively running our stuff and running our stuff well,” he said. “We have a scouting report on them and it’s about executing on the scouting report so we put ourselves in a position to be successful.”