Tyler Crayston, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON, Man. – The No. 2 nationally ranked Bobcats ran the table on the No. 1 ranked Trinity Western Spartans at the Healthy Living Centre.
BU capped off a perfect 6-and-0 weekend by sweeping the Spartans for a second straight night.
Saturday's set scores were 25-22, 25-18 and 25-21.
"Trinity Western has been the benchmark of the level you need to play at it if you want to win the national championship," said third-year Brandon outside hitter Elliott Viles. "We knew it was going to be a big test and we could not be happier with the results. Hopefully we can use this momentum for the rest of the second-half and keep building towards reaching the national tournament in March."
The Bobcats' offence caught fire in the first set with a 6-0 run thanks to a hat-trick from Swiss star Robin Baghdady from the service line. Trinity Western replied with a flurry of points of their own. A 7-1 Spartans' run tied it 18-18. Brandon sealed up the opening set with back-to-back points.
Brandon's momentum carried over into the second as they grabbed convincing leads of 8-3 and 14-8. At the technical timeout, the Bobcats stood tall at 16-11. BU had short but sweet bursts of offence for the remainder of the set to grab a convincing advantage in the match.
In the third, the Bobcats built up a four-point lead, but the Spartans countered with a 5-1 run to tie it 15-15. There was a series of momentum shifts the rest of the way with Trinity Western closing the gap to 21-20. Brandon came through in the clutch with three consecutive scores to sweep the match.
Baghdady finished with four aces, eight kills and two blocks as Brandon boosted their conference record to 12-and-2. Viles led Brandon with 10 kills while Seth Friesen added eight kills.
Reece Dixon delivered 33 assists and Brady Nault notched 10 digs, both were match-highs for BU.
Jacob Kern scored a match-high 12 kills in a losing cause for the Spartans, who slipped to 9-and-3. Trinity Western played without the conference's top attacker Eric Loeppky with fifth-year Ben Lieuwen taking his place in the lineup. Lieuwen scored five kills and added five digs for the Spartans, who enter a bye week in their schedule. Trinity Western is back in action on home floor against the Thompson Rivers WolfPack on January 18-19.
"When it is a loss you try to take away character, mental and energy stuff. Stuff you can translate come March and when we play them in March," said fourth-year Spartans' middle Aaron Boettcher. "We knew it was going to be hard, especially coming out of the Christmas break. Both teams were coming off a long break and it was going to be the toughest team to play right out of a month off of volleyball. We knew it was going to be a challenge and they looked really good."
Brandon will put their eight-match winning streak on the line this coming weekend when they hit the road to meet the No. 3 nationally ranked Alberta Golden Bears.
(Photo courtesy: Milana Paddock)