The Brandon University Bobcats are facing their biggest test of the Canada West men’s volleyball season this weekend, and they can’t wait to get going.
Brandon (10-4) just broke Trinity Western’s 25-match home-court winning streak on Saturday and now are hoping to ruin another one at the Healthy Living Centre tonight at 7:45 and Saturday at 6:45 p.m. The top-ranked Alberta Golden Bears are coming to the Wheat City and they’re sporting a perfect 14-0 record.
Alberta is a dangerous team with middle Tristan Aubry leading the conference in hitting percentage (.487) and setter Brett Walsh on top of Canada West with 10.59 assists per set. Their attack becomes fully balanced with left side Jay Olmstead and right side Mitch Irvine sitting third and fourth in the conference in kills, with 3.90 and 3.77 respectively.
BU head coach Grant Wilson knows Alberta will be tough, but he believes that if his team plays the way it did last weekend, then it should be a good battle.
"I think we need to play with the same kind of confidence and energy that we played in Trinity," he said. "We just kept believing all night. It didn’t matter that we were down in points or down in sets, our guys just continued to battle and if we come with that kind of mentality against Alberta, we’ll give ourselves a chance."
It’s no secret that the strength of the Bobcats has been at left side with Sam Tuivai. The second-year New Zealander leads the conference with 4.11 kills per set. However, the Bobcats have always stated that they need to do things by committee to have success, and one of the key pieces this year has been Roy Ching.
The first-year New Zealander came to BU as a setter, but took over as Brandon’s starting right side a few weeks into the season.
He set a little bit when Garrett Popplestone was taken off the court in the first semester and is second on Brandon with 2.22 kills per set. He has done everything that has been asked of him, which impresses Wilson.
"We love Roy on the right side just for the blocking," he said.
"When he’s matched up against some pretty good left-side blockers, he’s able to control them. He’s just so big and strong and we’re going to continue to need that from him this weekend because he’s going to be facing some pretty good left-side players."
Ching admits playing right side is growing on him, and he’s getting used to being a starter despite being in his first year with the team.
He knows how big this weekend will be for his team and is a little intimidated about facing the top-ranked team in the country, but at the same time he believes the Bobcats have earned some respect as well.
"We’re number five now so we’re one of the bigger teams in the CIS as well," he said.
"I think they should be just as afraid of us as we are of them."
Meanwhile, the Bobcats women’s volleyball team (5-9) will take on the third-ranked Alberta Pandas (11-3) at the HLC today at 6 p.m. They will have a rematch on Saturday.
Both Brandon University basketball teams will visit the UBC Thunderbirds tonight and the Victoria Vikes on Saturday.