The Brandon University Bobcats didn’t get the result they wanted on the scoreboard Saturday, but they did get one they hoped for on the court.
Down 11-4 in the fourth set in their Canada West match at the Healthy Living Centre, the Bobcats women’s volleyball team (4-2) looked poised to fall to the fourth-ranked Manitoba Bisons (4-1), before BU head coach Lee Carter sent rookie left side Gillian Leech and setter Mary Thomson on to the court. The two Brandonites, along with Larissa Vonkeman who came in earlier in the set, brought new life to Brandon as it fought back to force extra points, but eventually fell 28-26. Brandon lost the match 3-1 (25-21, 21-25, 25-19, 28-26).
While disappointed with the loss, Carter was impressed with the play of his young rookies and now has a lot more faith in his bench.
"Now we’ve seen what can happen when some of our younger players step into the game," he said. "We know we can make a change and that was an important lesson for us. There’s not as much pressure on Shanlee and Chloe to carry the load. If they’re struggling, we can sit them down for a little while."
Thomson finished the set with eight assists, one ace and two blocks, while Leech had two kills, one ace and six digs. Victoria Dakin led the Bobcats with 18 kills and chipped in with 10 digs and Chloe Reimer had 10 kills, 12 digs and two blocks.
While the Bobcats, ranked 11th in the country, left the match knowing they have what it takes to get out of a big deficit, there was still an empty feeling. Dakin admitted they would have taken a split with Manitoba heading into the weekend, but they know the sweep was there for the taking after winning Friday’s opener.
"We could have done it," Dakin said. "We had a little lull tonight but we fought back really well. A sweep was what we were going for."