Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON, Man. – The Brandon Bobcats began the Canada West playoffs the way they left off in the regular season, making quick work of the Calgary Dinos by a final of 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-19).
The Bobcats entered the post-season as the No. 1 seed and hosted the Dinos after sweeping Calgary in conference play on consecutive days back in November.
Thursday's match wasn't much different as the Bobcats won in just over an hour.
"We did a good job in our attack I thought. Our side-out made it tough for them to deal with our attack," said third-year outside hitter Elliott Viles.
"They definitely served tougher than they did when they were here in November, so we had to sort of had to manage that. They got a bit more pressure on us than we anticipated and they played scrappy defence. We'll have to be a bit better tomorrow but we're pretty happy with how things started off."
In the first set the Bobcats cleaned up their serving issues that hurt them last week by putting up five aces in the first frame. Calgary played great defence which set up a sparkling .348 attack efficiency, but it wasn't enough against the top-ranked Bobcats.
The Dinos ran to a quick start in the second taking an early three point lead, but rookie sensation Robin Baghdady served five straight points in a row to get the Bobcats the lead at 18-14 in the second set, a lead they would not relinquish taking it 25-20.
The third set was evenly-matched until a 10-3 run at the mid-point of the set gave the homeside control of the set and the match.
Baghdady led the Bobcats on offence with 11 kills and three service aces while Viles wasn't far behind with 10 kills and two aces.
Baghdady's effort from the service line was vastly improved from the previous weekend where he struggled against the MacEwan Griffins.
"I think last weekend I was just thinking about it too much," said Baghdady.
"I over thought it. This weekend I just tried to simply stay calm and just hit the ball and it worked out. We all just played way better than last weekend."
Tim Taylor and Liam Kuppe led the charge for the Dinos each finishing with seven kills. Liam Laidlaw had a match-high five blocks, while Blain Cranston put up 17 assists.
With the win the Bobcats improve their all-time record to 2-3 against Calgary in the post-season.
The two teams will meet again at 7 p.m. at the Brandon University Healthy Living Centre as the Bobcats look to wrap up the best of three series while Calgary will look to force a deciding match on Saturday.
Photo courtesy Milana Paddock