Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON, Man. – The Brandon Bobcats booked their ticket to the next round with a 3-1 (21-25, 25-15, 25-19, 29-27) win over the Calgary Dinos on Friday.
What looked like a rout early turned into a slugfest as the Dinos gave the No. 1 ranked Bobcats a fight in every set.
Calgary's first touch of the game was an over-pass on serve receive that led to the Dinos' first time-out just four minutes into the match. That timeout seemed to work as Calgary battled back to tie the first set at 12-12 before taking it.
Sets two and three were one-sided in Brandon's favour as the Bobcats took care of the ball, which led to an efficient offensive attack.
The fourth set was a battle as Brandon fought off two set points before forcing two set points of their own, taking it on consecutive kills from Elliott Viles and Mason Metcalf.
When asked about the fourth set coach Grant Wilson commented on how neither side backed down at all.
"Full credit to Rod (Durrant) and his team. We've had some pretty crazy games over the years but considering the circumstances that's definitely going to be one that ranks right up there and I'm just thankful we were able to find a way to pull it out."
All three Brandon starting outside attackers finished in double-figure kills led by fourth-year hometown Brandon product Seth Friesen's match-high 17. Robin Baghdady finished with 13 kills while Viles had 10 kills.
"It looked like we were really pumped up on the outside. That was a result of great support from the crowd but I think on the inside we were pretty calm. We're a pretty experienced group so you just trust each guy who gets set the ball in a clutch time like that. We had no panic in our game," said Friesen.
Reece Dixon registered a match-high 47 assists for the Bobcats while fifth-year libero Brady Nault finished with 13 digs, also a match-high.
Calgary was led by Liam Kuppe's team-high 11 kills while Hamish Hazelden contributed 10 kills. Tim Taylor had nine kills to go with nine digs and three aces.
Brandon's win sets up a semi-final series next weekend at home against the winner of the Mount Royal and Saskatchewan series to be settled later in the weekend.
Photo courtesy Milana Paddock