Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON – In front of a loud and raucous home-opener crowd, the host Bobcats didn't disappoint the home fans as they ran to a straight sets victory of the Saskatchewan Huskies 3-0 (25-22, 25-23, 25-16) Friday night at the BU Healthy Living Centre.
The first set was back and forth, while the second set looked like it was going to be all Huskies, but the Bobcats had a different plan in mind. After trailing 23-18 late in the second, BU went on an impressive run to win the set 25-23.
Saskatchewan could not respond early in the third as the Bobcats jumped to a 16-9 lead at the technical time-out. The Huskies would mount a late surge behind tough serves from Mackenzie Pek, but it was all for not as BU ran to the set victory.
The win improves BU's record to 2-1 on the season while the Huskies sit a 1-2.
"The first half of the first set I thought we were a little scattery and a little nervous at times and I think our serve receive kind of was able to get under control a little more and I think from that point on were a little more solid," says Bobcats interim head coach Kevin Neufeld.
The loud home crowd may have proved to provide a competitive edge, and the Bobcats admitted it gave them a spark.
"It was fun," says Nikala Majewski. "I love playing in front of a crowd like that. It makes it so much more of an environment that you know everyone there is to support you. It's just so nice to have that."
Majewski finished with a match-high 10 kills while Rayvn Wiebe had eight kills for the Bobcats. Rookie Caitlin Le finished with a match-high 11 digs, earning player of the game honours in her first conference home match as a Bobcat. Fellow rookie Sami Love impressed putting up seven blocks, also in her first home Canada West match as a Bobcat.
Mackenzie Pek paced the Huskies with 27 assists and eight digs, while Carissa Noble finished with eight kills.
The two teams will meet again Saturday in Brandon to conclude the weekend series. First serve is set for 5 pm and can be seen live on www.canadawest.tv.
Photo courtesy Milana Paddock