The Brandon University Bobcats left the Healthy Living Centre with hunger pains in their stomachs Friday night.
After getting off to a slow start in their Canada West match, the Bobcats stormed back to force a fifth set. However, they couldn’t complete the comeback and lost 3-2 (25-16, 25-18, 23-25, 18-25, 19-17) to the visiting Calgary Dinos (4-5).
BU head coach Lee Carter liked his team’s effort late in the match, but he felt like they let one slip right through their fingers.
"They’re a good team and they deserved to win and they played their hearts out and got the final kill, but to us it was right there," Carter said. "It’s like they pulled the turkey dinner right from underneath us with the tablecloth."
The first two and a half sets in Friday’s match were ones the Bobcats (4-5) would like to forget. The team struggled to get anything going and looked like they were out of the set even through they were only down by a couple points. That all changed in the third set when Carter inserted Forrest’s Brooke Huculak into the lineup for a few points, which got the crowd into it.
Kellie Baker then served up three aces to get her team fired up even more and led them back from a 16-12 deficit. She made two blocks to rally her team again in the fourth set and made another key block in the fifth as well.
Baker admitted making the extra effort and getting one big play is sometimes all the Bobcats need to rally.
"I feel like when I get going, they all know it’s time to go because, let’s be honest, I don’t block a whole lot," said Baker, who finished the match with two kills, four aces, three blocks and 42 assists. "When I do, it’s kind of a big deal and they know as soon as I’m ready to go, it’s peddle to the metal."
Baker also had the opportunity to experience a new tradition. In the fourth set, BU athletic director Russ Paddock managed to get fans in the HLC to stand up and clap in unison every time the Bobcats were at set point.
The fans adopted the idea for every set point after that, and Baker loved the experience when it was her time to serve.
"That’s unreal to have that crowd support," she said. "…It’s amazing to have fans that are willing to do that and get involved that much."
Victoria Dakin led Brandon with 16 kills. Shanlee McLennan added 14 kills and 12 digs and Chloe Reimer had 11 kills and nine digs. Andrea Price led the Dinos with 21 kills and 11 digs, and Brandonite Angelica Quiring added two kills and five blocks.
While the Bobcats were happy with their effort late in the match, they admit they have to get much better at coming out with energy. Carter hopes that is something that will change starting in tonight’s rematch at 5 o’clock.
"It’s a mental preparation part of our game and we just need to be better at it," he said. "If we can find that, we’re right in the thick of things and we showed that again tonight. We won’t have to get to five if we play better right from the start."