For the second straight year, the Brandon University Bobcats will be battling for a Canada West women’s volleyball playoff spot in the final week of the season. This time, however, they won’t control their own fate and have become big fans of the Regina Cougars.
The Bobcats (8-12) remain one match behind the Calgary Dinos (9-11) for the seventh and final playoff spot after getting swept 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-16) by the top-ranked UBC Thunderbirds (19-1) on Saturday night at BU’s Healthy Living Centre. Going into the final weekend of the regular season, the Bobcats likely need to sweep the host UBC-Okanagan Heat (13-7) and have the Cougars (5-15) steal one match from the Dinos to reach the post-season.
The odds may not be on Brandon’s side, but left side hitter Shanlee McLennan still has a lot of faith in her team’s ability to make the playoffs.
“I’m pretty confident we can get there,” said McLennan, who led Brandon with 10 kills on Saturday. “We’ve got two more games, two more wins and I think we can do it. … It will be tough. Especially going into their gym where they’re more comfortable, but I’m comfortable with us.”
Despite getting swept, Saturday’s contest gave the Bobcats a confidence boost. They played much better defensively, especially with their blocking game, getting six team blocks in the loss. However, they struggled with their attack, managing only six and seven kills in the second and third set, respectively.
They also tinkered with their lineup a bit, putting Larissa Vonkeman at right side — the first time in her career at that position — for the final two sets in place of Jodie Baker.
Seeing his team put up a good fight against the best team in the country has BU head coach Lee Carter convinced all the pieces are there for the Bobcats to be a good team, but he knows they still need to learn how to put a complete match together.
“We just need to do the whole part of the game at once instead of (Friday) where our offence was good and our blocking was average or (Saturday) where our block was really good and our offence was average,” he said. “We need to put them together and that’s just experience.”
Brandonite Lisa Barclay finished the match with 10 kills for UBC. BU’s Lexi Loewen had five kills and three blocks.