Brandon’s Kellie Baker (top left), Shanlee McLennan and Donata Huebert celebrate a point over Trinity Western during university women’s volleyball action on Saturday. (COLIN CORNEAU/BRANDON SUN)
The Brandon University Bobcats women’s volleyball team has been dominant at home all season, and it will have one more weekend to play at the Healthy Living Centre.
The second-ranked Bobcats clinched home-court advantage for the first round of the Canada West playoffs on Saturday as they swept the fourth-ranked Trinity Western Spartans 3-0 (25-13, 25-11, 25-21) at the Healthy Living Centre.
The Bobcats have never won a playoff series, but hope playing at home this year will change that.
"We play really well at home most of the time and for us to know now that we have some home-court games, it’s important," Bobcats head coach Lee Carter said.
Saturday’s contest seemed to be a role reversal from Friday’s match for the Bobcats (15-5) and the Spartans (15-5), who are tied for second place in the conference.
The Bobcats came out fired up and looking for revenge on the Spartans, who swept the Bobcats the day before.
On Saturday, Brandon took the play to the Trinity Western, which struggled to respond for much of the match.
However, it was a pair of rookies who sparked the Bobcats.
Vaovai Aiono, a 5-foot-11 left side from New Zealand, made some key kills and blocks early in the match to give Brandon an advantage. She finished the match with 11 kills, three aces and four blocks.
Regan Dahl, a 6-foot left side from Grande Prairie, Alta., saw limited time on the court as a serving specialist, but she proved to be deadly.
Dahl came in and rolled off five straight tough serves to close out the second set and added four more in the third set to help the Bobcats bounce back from a 17-14 deficit to take momentum and an 18-17 lead. Brandon went on a roll and closed out the match after that.
"She’s just great," Aiono said. "She’s one of our key players. She’s an underdog, so we’re trying to keep her safe for the next few games. She just came in and did her job and hyped up the team."
Dahl finished the match with three digs and two aces. Meaghan Robertson added seven kills for Brandon, while Lexi Loewen was involved in eight blocks. Sophie Carpentier led Trinity Western with nine kills.
The Bobcats are tied for second in the conference with the Spartans and will close out the regular season schedule next weekend when they visit the Calgary Dinos (5-15).
Brandon will host its best-of-three playoff series from Feb. 13-15.
CAT SCRAPS: Loewen set a team record for most blocks in a season with 105 … Fifth-year players Loewen and Kellie Baker were honoured after the match as graduating members of the Bobcats.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 3, 2014