Bobcats left side Shanlee McLennan hammers the ball over the net in Saturday’s pre-season tournament victory over the Manitoba Bisons at BU’s Healthy Living Centre. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team was hoping to build a little bit more confidence and get their role players some important experience at the Bobcats’ home tournament on the weekend, and that’s exactly what they did.
BU head coach Lee Carter played a lot of his role players against the Lakeland Rustlers, an Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference team from Lloydminster that features Brandonites Laura Popplestone and Tristan Neudorf, and used his starters against the University of Manitoba in the three-day event at BU’s Healthy Living Centre. The end result was the Bobcats winning 12 of their 13 sets and gaining a lot of faith that anyone can come off the bench and fill in.
"They did see a lot of the court and I think that’s important because it gives them confidence and it gives us confidence that we can count on them when they come onto the court," said fourth-year Bobcats middle Meaghan Robertson.
The Bobcats followed up their Friday sweeps with a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-16) victory over the Bisons on Saturday and a 3-1 (25-27, 25-14, 25-14, 25-22) win over the Rustlers on Sunday.
Second-year setter Mary Thomson started on Saturday and spread the ball out well as Victoria Dakin and Vaovai Aiono, a new recruit from New Zealand who made her home debut, each recorded eight kills. On Sunday, Brandon sent fifth-year setter Kellie Baker to run a squad largely made up of role players. Jodie Baker had a solid day with 10 kills and nine blocks while Robertson added nine kills and four blocks.
The four-victory weekend gives the Bobcats a lot of confidence as they prepare for their Canada West season-opener against the visiting Regina Cougars on Oct. 25, but it didn’t solidify the team’s starting seven. Although Carter has Dakin and Shanlee McLennan locked in as starting outside hitters, the third spot is still open.
Brianna Walsh was a favourite for it, but she has been sidelined with a broken ankle, which means Carter could look to Jodie Baker or Aiono. However, he’s not looking at solidifying that position right now.
"It will be depending on who we play and if we need to beat that team with speed or do we need to be bigger and blocking," he said. "We have a lot of different options and each week is a new week and a new opponent. I think it will be a big test for us."
The Bobcats close out their pre-season on Thursday when they face the Winnipeg Wesmen in Portage la Prairie.
Meanwhile, the Bobcats men’s volleyball team won the Cougars Invitational tournament in Regina over the weekend. Brandon went 3-0 in the round robin and followed up their five-set victory over the Saskatchewan Huskies to wrap up the round robin with a 3-2 (25-20, 23-25, 26-24, 21-25, 15-9) win over the Huskies in the final. Sam Tuivai led the way with 19 kills and six blocks, while Sebastien Steigmeier added 17 kills and three aces. Frank Jones chipped in with 11 kills and one block for BU.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 15, 2013