Alyssa Etsell, Bison Sports
WINNIPEG – Manitoba rode the ups and downs to beat out Brandon in a 3-2 (25-10, 27-25, 19-25, 22-25, 15-12) win Friday night (Nov. 30) at Investors Group Athletic Centre.
The Bisons controlled the first set, but the Bobcats fired back up for the second and the rest of the game was a battle to the bitter end.
"I'm a little relieved," said Bison head coach Ken Bentley, with a laugh. "I thought after the fourth set, we still did a really good job in the fifth. That could've really broken our spirit."
Manitoba fought for every point they got in the fifth set, which was overrun with intense rallies. Tori Studler's mid-court kill ended the set (15-12) and secured the 3-2 win in Manitoba's favour.
Bobcats head coach Lee Carter told his team to just restart after the first set, the second set's score is 0-0 and they still had every opportunity to win the game.
"We battled back a couple times from deficits, like in the [fifth] set we got into there and gave ourselves a bit of a chance," said Carter. "It's just unfortunate, you know, the Bisons don't make errors so you have to find a way to score."
With the win, Manitoba breaks a four-game losing streak and improves their record to 4-7. Brandon's record moves to 3-8.
Struggling to keep a consistent lead, the Bisons and Bobcats fought point-for-point the entire latter half of the fourth set. After being tied at 22, a block by Brandon and an out-of-bounds kill attempt by Manitoba propelled the game to a fifth set (25-22).
"…It was a crazy match. A lot of ups and downs, more than I want to see, but at this point every weekend is a war against every team and this was a great example of that," said Bentley.
The visitors found their groove in the third, initially driving up the set score to 5-1. The Herd stampeded back, but couldn't hold strong. At half, the Bobcats led 16-11. An out-of-bounds dump by the Bisons nudged the visiting team to set point, and a kill by Nikala Majewski picked up Brandon's first set win of the game, 25-19.
The Bobcats' play got stronger as the second set progressed. At half, Brandon clawed back and almost evened out the score (16-14). Allison Alcock smashed an attack, which put Manitoba within set point (24-20), but the Bobcats weren't done battling and drove the score up to 24-23. Majewski sent a kill into the middle, and pushed the visitors ahead by one. An out-of-bounds hit moved the Bisons to 26-25 and an error by the visiting team gave the Herd the set win (27-25).
In a first set thoroughly dominated by Manitoba, an out-of-bounds block by the Bobcats steered the home team to a set win, 25-10.
For tomorrow, Carter says his team will watch some video, "and we're going to try to find a few holes in the defense and move forward from there."
Next up: Brandon and Manitoba will play each other again Saturday afternoon (Dec. 1) at the Investors Group Athletic Centre. The game starts at 5 p.m. CST, and you can watch it live online at CanadaWest.TV.