The Brandon University Bobcats’ hopes of hosting a Canada West men’s volleyball playoff series have all but evaporated.
The eighth-ranked Bobcats (11-9) fell two matches back of the fourth-ranked Manitoba Bisons and the seventh-ranked UBC Thunderbirds, both 13-7, for fourth place in Canada West after a 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-22, 27-25) loss to the visiting Thunderbirds on Saturday night at BU’s Healthy Living Centre. All the teams in Canada West have two matches left in the regular season and Manitoba needs to win just one set next week to eliminate Brandon from the race for the final home playoff spot.
Although the Bobcats, who have secured a playoff berth, are almost assured of having to be road warriors for the rest of the season, it’s not something they’re worrying about.
"We normally do quite well on the road," said Brendan White, who had four kills and seven blocks for the Bobcats on Saturday. "We always like to play at home and especially in the new gym. We’ve got two games on the road against UBC-O and really have to go and prepare ourselves and really play our game at 100 per cent and do some damage."
Saturday’s loss hit the Bobcats hard. They wanted to exert their dominance over UBC and show they were a real contender, but instead struggled to close out sets. Through the first semester and part of the second, they have excelled once they hit 20 points, but they have struggled to do that in the last three weeks against Saskatchewan, Alberta and UBC.
While that has been a major reason for Brandon’s recent slide — dropping five of its last six matches — BU head coach Grant Wilson believes that can also be attributed to playing some of the best teams in the conference and in the country.
"It’s not so much what we’re doing but what other teams are doing to have success and stepping up and making some big plays," Wilson said. "The reality is there’s some pretty good competition on the other side of the net and sometimes they outplay you and that’s the way it goes."
Sam Tuivai led Brandon with 26 kills, while Roy Ching added 11. Garrett Popplestone had 47 assists and five blocks for BU.
Brandon, which is one match up on the seventh-place Winnipeg Wesmen (10-10), will conclude its regular season on Friday and Saturday on the road versus the UBC-Okanagan Heat (2-18) in Kelowna, B.C.