Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON – The 2018-19 Canada West women's volleyball opener didn't disappoint as the marathon five set match saw the Saskatchewan Huskies come away with a 3-2 (25-20, 25-27, 28-30, 26-24, 15-11) win over the host Brandon Bobcats Friday night.
In starting her fifth year and final season as a Bobcat, outside hitter Nikala Majewski had a career night, registering a Brandon University women's volleyball school record with 24 kills, surpassing the previous record held by Shanlee McLennan, but it was all for naught as a late surge from the Huskies proved to be the difference.
The Huskies hit a positive clip all night, and dug out gritty fourth and fifth sets that proved to be the difference.
"It feels really good to start with a win, especially in such a competitive game," says third-year outside hitter Emily Koshinsky.
"It really could have been anyone's game. It was just a gritty, competitive game, but we really wanted it. We never really gave up on any ball. There were some moments that could have hurt us, but we didn't let it set us back."
Former Bobcat Regan Wiebe was terrific in the first set for the Huskies, putting up three kills and a stuff block, taking what would be the quickest set of the night 25-20.
After trailing 23-20 in the second set, the Huskies clawed their way back to set point when Wiebe served into the net, opening the door for the Bobcats to fight back and take it 27-25.
The third set was similar, as Brandon held a 24-21 lead before four straight points from the Huskies tied it, eventually forcing set point before the Bobcats battled back on three straight points to close out the set 30-28.
The fourth set also saw extras, but the Huskies hung around, forcing a fifth set in which Brandon jumped to a 9-6 lead. Tough serving from the Huskies closed it out as Saskatchewan finished the match on four straight points.
While Majewski's career night didn't end how she wanted, she was happy with how her young team performed.
"It comes back to the team," says Majewski. "I wouldn't be able to do it without them. We just need to go and watch the game tape and be better tomorrow. Volleyball is a long match, so we just need to keep fighting."
Majewski's 24 kills were the match-high, while Saskatchewan was led by Koshinsky's 22.
Brandon's Caitlin Le had a match-high 25 digs while Shae Beaulieu led the Huskies with 22.
In her first start as a Bobcat, college transfer Jaime Bain had a double-double, registering 42 assists and 15 digs.
The win moves Saskatchewan to 1-0 on the season while Brandon sits at 0-1. The two teams meet again Saturday afternoon at 5 pm at Brandon's Healthy Living Centre.
(Photo courtesy Milana Paddock)