YAN DOUBLET/LAVAL UNIVERSITY
Brandon University Bobcats setter Garrett Popplestone celebrates BU’s bronze-medal victory with David Stasica on Sunday afternoon in Quebec City. The Bobcats beat the Western Mustangs 3-2.
QUEBEC CITY — The Brandon University Bobcats came back from the Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s volleyball championship with a medal around their necks.
Although it wasn’t the gold they hoped for, the Bobcats found no shame in leaving Laval University’s gym with bronze medals after defeating the Western Mustangs 3-2 (21-25, 34-36, 25-23, 25-18, 15-12) on Sunday afternoon.
"That was our gold medal today," BU coach Grant Wilson said while fighting back tears. "That’s all we had. Pretty proud of how our guys battled and thankfully it worked out."
It was an emotional weekend for the Bobcats. They were absolutely devastated after losing Saturday’s semifinal 3-2 (21-25, 26-24, 24-26, 25-23, 15-13) to the host Laval Rouge et Or and, according to Wilson, they were still thinking about that loss when they took the court against the OUA runner-up Mustangs.
Things looked bleak for the Canada West champion Bobcats, who entered the weekend as the top seed, on Sunday after they lost the first set and were edged in the marathon second set.
Led by middle Dan Boutwell, who finished the match with 17 kills and nine blocks, the Bobcats showed a lot of character by clawing back and escaping the third set with a win. They dominated after that en route to their third national medal in three appearances.
"After a while, we realized we have to play to win this game so we really need to step it up and we found energy," said Boutwell. "… Once we brought the energy up, we started getting things together as a team. We knew this was our last time together as a team and we really wanted it to count for something. We really wanted this year."
Roy Ching led the Bobcats’ attack with 18 kills. He also had seven digs. Sam Tuivai, who was named to the tournament all-star team four days after being named second-team all-Canadian, added 17 kills, seven digs and five blocks. Fifth-year setter and Brandonite Garrett Popplestone had 50 assists, 15 digs, five blocks and two kills.
Western was led by Garrett May’s 24 kills. Justin Scapinello had 19 and Luke Sim posted 16 more. Sean McKay had 69 assists.
The win over Western not only earned the Bobcats a medal, but it also secured a second berth for Canada West at next season’s national championship in Calgary. The three spots at the CIS championship not designated to conference winners and host team and awarded to the conferences that medalled at the previous season’s event.
After seeing how tough Canada West was in his rookie season at Brandon, Ching is happy a team other than the conference winner can get into next year’s national championship.
"It’s going to really have an impact on the Canada West conference," he said. "I think one team would have been really rough considering the calibre of the teams and the calibre of the players. We’re happy with the medal."
Laval beat the McMaster Marauders 3-1 (26-24, 22-25, 25-22, 25-21) in the national final. It was Laval’s first title since 1994, which was the last time a team not from the Canada West conference won a CIS men’s volleyball championship.
CAT SCRAPS: Brandon’s other national medals came in 2011 (silver) and 2009 (bronze) … The Alberta Golden Bears defeated the Trinity Western Spartans 3-1 (25-14, 25-21, 22-25, 25-18) in the fifth-place match, in which both sides mainly played their back-up players.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 4, 2013