QUEBEC CITY — The final point Garrett Popplestone ever scored as a member of the Brandon University Bobcats won him a Canadian Interuniversity Sport men’s volleyball bronze medal.
The Neelin High School graduate capped his university volleyball career with a setter’s dump that gave the Bobcats a 3-2 (21-25, 34-36, 25-23, 25-18, 15-12) win over the Western Mustangs in Sunday’s CIS bronze-medal match at Laval University. While a match-winning kill was a great way to end a career, Popplestone admitted he won’t cherish it as much as his bronze medal and a season that included BU’s first conference title.
"It’s an honour and a privilege to do something like this and make something as special as you can while doing your studies," he said after Sunday’s match in Quebec City. "I’m extremely happy and extremely proud of my teammates. I couldn’t have done it without them. It’s a total team effort. I love these guys."
This was the second national medal for Popplestone, who finished Sunday’s match with two kills, 50 assists, five blocks and 15 digs. He also won a silver medal in 2009, but played a completely different role on the team, which is why he’ll cherish his bronze medal so much more.
"The other one I played behind the scenes a little more," Popplestone said. "Making an impact in practice and challenging guys that way as some of the younger guys on the team are doing this year. Definitely a different feeling overall, but it’s always great."
The national championship was also the last time Crocus Plains graduate Scott Neufeld will wear BU’s blue and gold. Like Popplestone, Neufeld exhausted his CIS eligibility this season.
Neufeld had a different path during his time with the Bobcats. He was recruited as a setter but quickly moved to libero, a position he had never played before. However, he excelled there and set the team’s all-time record for career digs at 759. That was good enough for second in the Canada West record book as well.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Brandonite moved to left side during the final week of the Canada West regular season this year, a spot he hadn’t played since high school, and played there during the playoffs and at nationals.
Despite being challenged in Brandon, Neufeld said he’ll treasure the memories of the last five years.
"It’s been great," said Neufeld, who had 10 digs and two blocks in his final match. "I really couldn’t have asked for a better five years. Obviously my teammates are a huge part of those medals and it’s great with all the guys who have come through over the years. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to finish off my career here. It’s good."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 4, 2013