By: Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON – In what was essentially a must-win match for the Bobcats, they were given all they could handle in the visiting MacEwan Griffins, but the home side snuck out a big 5-set win.
The Bobcats picked up the crucial 3-2 (25-20, 25-21, 17-25, 19-25, 15-9) win to sit in the Canada West playoff picture with five matches remaining.
MacEwan was in the fight through all five sets, as the Griffins battled back to take the third and forth sets before the Bobcats took over in the fifth, finishing Friday's contest on an ace from Michelle Egger, the conference's leader in the category.
BU was trailing in the first set until Michelle Egger went back to serve and took the Bobcats on a 5-1 run to take control of the first set before the Bobcats closed it out 25-20 on a emphatic kill from Nikala Majewski.
The Griffins started the second on a roll after Majewski had to come off the court due to a bloody nose. The 'Cats hung around thanks to strong play by rookie Nicole Ashauer in the place of Majewski. Majewski came back on and put the Griffins under pressure from the serve line as Brandon took the second 25-11.
The Griffins refused to go away however, battling back in the third hitting .364 as a team before putting up an identical stat line - 14 kills and two errors on 33 swings - in the fourth to force a fifth and deciding set.
The Bobcats were able to regain their composure in the fifth, jumping to a 9-7 lead before ending the match on a 6-1 run.
Egger's impressive rookie season continues as the Swiss import put up 14 kills, six digs, and five aces on the night. Fellow first-year Caitlin Le had a match-high 18 digs for the Bobcats while Majewski finished with 18 kills and 10 digs while Rayvn Wiebe had 10 kills.
MacEwan was paced by Cassidy Kinsella's match-high 21 kills and team-high 14 digs. Lauren Holmes had 10 kills while Haley Gilfillan had a match-high six blocks.
The Griffins out-blocked Brandon (21 to eight) and scored at a more efficient rate (.231 to .174) but when needed most the Bobcats' serve game kept the visitors on their heels.
The win moves Brandon's record to 9-10 on the season and keeps the Bobcats in a playoff spot with five conference matches remaining.
MacEwan sits with a record of 2-17.
The two teams meet again Saturday afternoon in Brandon with first serve set for 5 pm.
The match can be seen live at www.canadawest.tv
Photo courtesy Milana Paddock.