Shanlee McLennan led the Bobcats with 16 kills on Saturday night at the Healthy Living Centre. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team went into the Christmas break without any festive feelings.
The Bobcats (9-3) had their worst showing of the semester and did not look like the second-best team in the country on Saturday night at the Healthy Living Centre as they fell 3-2 (25-27, 25-22, 26-28, 25-19, 15-11) to the Saskatchewan Huskies (5-7).
Brandon was without libero Donata Huebert, who was hospitalized earlier in the day with an abdominal issue but arrived in the second set in sweats, and had Vincent Massey graduate Gillian Leech debut at libero in the Canada West contest. The Bobcats struggled with their passes early and finished the match with a 4.4 attack percentage, but they refused to blame Huebert’s absence for their struggles.
"Passing was a little part of it," said Brandon right side Victoria Dakin, who finished the match with nine kills. "I think maybe as hitters we were trying to do too much with it. We just have to go back to what we’re good at and not try to trick them or anything and go with our shots and what’s scored for us in the past."
Brandon never looked comfortable on the court and won the first set despite posting only five kills and a negative attack percentage. The Bobcats weren’t successful on more than 12 per cent of their attacks in any set and were outblocked by the Huskies.
BU head coach Lee Carter felt his players didn’t trust their teammates on the court, but he thought Saturday’s match may be a good thing in the long run. It was the first time his players were consistently trying to manufacture points out of tough situations, and hopes they’ll learn how to deal with it in the future.
"We haven’t had to do that too much this year," he said. "It’s a good learning experience for us. We’ll watch some video and talk about it as a group and we’ll move forward."
Shanlee McLennan finished with 16 kills and three aces for Brandon, while Meaghan Robertson added 10 kills and Lexi Loewen was involved in eight blocks. Anne Hanbidge had 13 kills for Saskatchewan, with Kayla Tycholiz, Candace Hueser and Emmalyn Copping each adding 12.
The loss snapped the Bobcats four-match winning streak and sends them into the Christmas break, which includes a tournament in Barbados, with a sour taste in their mouths.
"It keeps us humble," Dakin said. "It keeps us focused on what we need to improve on. Keep together as a team because it’s our last game, so we just have to stay together for sure."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition November 30, 2013