BRUCE BUMSTEAD / BRANDON SUN
Something to celebrate: The BU Bobcats women's volleyball team is heading to Barbados today.
The Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team is getting back on the court to prepare for the second half of the Canada West season, but the players are doing it far away from the Wheat City.
The Bobcats fly out today to Barbados, where they are taking part in a tournament that features a trio of Canadian university teams in the third-ranked Montreal Carabins, the sixth-ranked University of British Columbia Okanagan Heat and the Calgary Dinos, as well as a CEGEP team from Quebec and a club team made up players from the Barbados national team.
Brandon, which is ranked second in the country, opens the tournament against the host Barbados squad and BU head coach Lee Carter is looking forward to the experience.
"Just get back into the flow and correct some things we saw over the holidays," he said. "It’s a chance for us to be us against the world and get everybody back together and not have the stress of exams and projects and just focus on volleyball."
Carter and his players worked hard to afford the trip. Carter was involved in 11 volleyball camps in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba during the summer to raise as much money for the trip as he could. The players are also responsible for a portion of the costs and some held their own fundraisers.
The Bobcats are currently third in the Canada West conference with a 9-3 record and hope to earn their first trip to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championship, which will be held in Regina from Feb. 28 to March 2. Carter believes this trip is an important step to get his team there.
"I think a lot of the time when you can get people away from their cell phones and friends and family, it gives them a chance to focus in on each other and get to know each other better," he said. "In the end, it’s going to be teams that rely on each other that win that national championship."
Meanwhile, the Bobcats men’s volleyball team, which is ranked fifth in Canada and is tied for fifth in Canada West at 7-5, will be off to Saskatoon for a tournament from Jan. 2-4. The round robin event also includes the host Saskatchewan Huskies, Regina Cougars and Sherbrooke Vert et Or.
While BU head coach Grant Wilson knows the semester break is important for his players to get healthy — especially with right side Sebastien Steigmeier recovering from a knee injury and middle Frank Jones out with a broken finger — he’s excited to get back to work against familiar foes.
The Bobcats have played both Canada West teams in the event during the first semester, which means they don’t have to worry about facing them again until the playoffs at the earliest.
"I think it’s perfect," Wilson said. "It’s a situation where maybe there’s a little less pressure in the sense that you don’t have to decoy your lineups or anything. We’ve already played each other, so they know what we have to offer and we know what they have to offer, so we can play accordingly and not really have to hide anything.
"That will be a good thing and give our guys a chance to work out some kinks and try and get together as a group and play better."
The BU men’s basketball team gets back on the court on Saturday in Winnipeg at the 47th annual Wesmen Classic when the Bobcats, who posted a 2-8 record in the first semester and sit in a tie for sixth place in the Prairie Division, open the eight-team event against the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees. The tournament also includes the host Winnipeg Wesmen, the Manitoba Bisons and the Regina Cougars, all of whom the Bobcats will face in the second semester.
The semifinals are set for Sunday while the placement games will be played Monday.
BU’s women’s basketball team, who are last in the Prairie Division at 2-8, won’t be playing any exhibition games during their break. However, the team is hosting the inaugural New Year’s Basketball Classic on Jan. 3 and 4. The varsity girls’ high school basketball tournament will feature the Crocus Plainsmen, Vincent Massey Vikings, Neelin Spartans, Virden Golden Bears, Souris Sabres, Boissevain Broncos, Garden City Fighting Gophers and the R.D. Parker Trojans. The junior varsity tournament will feature Crocus, Massey, Souris, Virden, R.D. Parker and the Sisler Spartans.
All four Bobcat teams resume conference play on Jan. 10.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 27, 2013