Matt Packwood, Brandon University Athletics
BRANDON – After dropping the first set the host Brandon Bobcats ran off three straight sets to upset the UBC Thunderbirds 3-1 (16-25, 26-24, 25-20, 25-15) on Saturday evening.
The win is the Bobcats' first on the young conference season and provides momentum as the season heats up.
Early on it looked to be a repeat of Friday's straight sets win for UBC, but as things wore on the Bobcats played gritty defence setting up a thrilling finish.
Kiera Van Ryk served UBC to 11 straight points to close out the first set after the two teams were tied early.
That would be the biggest lead of the night as the two teams traded blows from then on, with the Bobcats prevailing in the dying points of the remaining three sets.
After setting the Canada West single-season record for aces last year, sophomore Michelle Egger found her groove late in the game and sealed the deal by putting up three aces in the Bobcats' match-ending 6-1 run.
"I was like 'finally', because last year my serve was pretty good, and I was struggling finding it and I'm so happy it's finally back ," said Egger. "I don't what happened, but it felt good and I just decided I was going to hit it as hard as I can."
Egger finished with 10 kills and seven digs while fifth-year outside Nikala Majewski had match-highs in both kills (16) and digs (15) to go with two blocks.
Bobcats Coach Lee Carter took a moment to acknowledge the importance of the win following Saturday's match.
"Your first victory of the year is something you can celebrate," says Carter. "For our team to realize now that they are in the mix and they can play with teams and be successful and win that is important."
Van Ryk led the T-Birds for the second straight night with 13 kills and 11 digs, while Olivia Furlan added 33 assists and 11 digs of her own.
The win moves Brandon's record to 1-3 while UBC falls to 2-4 in conference play. The Bobcats head on the road next weekend to Calgary to play Mount Royal while the Thunderbirds will welcome the Manitoba Bisons for a pair of matches.
(Photo courtesy Matt Packwood)