To kick off November, the Bisons women’s and men’s volleyball squads each squared off against their interprovincial-rival, the Brandon University Bobcats, this past weekend.
The four games provided a bevy of excitement and a bit of disillusionment.
In need of a couple victories to get back in the win column, the women’s team entered play against the lowly Bobcats this past weekend coming off a serious two-game drubbing at the hands of the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) Cascades.
Nevertheless, coming off the tough losses, Brandon was a welcome opponent. The Bobcats currently sit dead last in the CanWest standings and finished dead last in the 2022-23 campaign as well, collecting a grimy 0-24 record.
The last time the Bobcats women’s volleyball team won a match was Mar. 3, 2022 in the 2021-22 CanWest playoffs against the University of Calgary Dinos. Entering play against the Bisons on Friday, the famished squad had not tasted a victory for 610 days.
As one might expect, the herd made sure the Bobcats would have to wait a little longer.
In the first match, the herd handled the Bobcats with ease, winning in three straight sets and never allowing Brandon to score over 14 points in a single set.
Dishing out 29 assists, Katreena Bentley played great in the win — consistently getting the ball to her teammates in good spots to hit and often generating one-on-ones as a result of her brilliant offensive orchestration.
One cannot fail to mention the great Raya Surinx either. The Bisons’ superstar finished the match with 18 kills on 26 attempts.
In the first set of Saturday’s match, the Bobcats’ team showed it was not entirely de-clawed, forcing the Bisons to come back from a one-point deficit to win the first set 27-25.
It seems the avoidably close first set was a wake-up call for the herd, as it then went on to crush the Bobcats in the second and third sets, picking up its second sweep in a row.
Bentley matched the 29 assists she garnered in the first match with 29 more, Surinx added another 17 kills to give her 88 on the season — currently the most in CanWest — and Simone Crevier got her first kills of the season, registering four.
The women’s team now sits in fifth place in CanWest.
To put it bluntly, it was a challenging weekend for the men’s volleyball team.
After looking so promising and clinical in its season-opening series against the UFV Cascades, the herd may have left supporters disillusioned with the team’s ability to close out games after last weekend’s performance against the Bobcats.
In the first match, the herd played well in every set, but could not close any of them out. When the points mattered, the herd seemed to shirk away.
Ultimately, the Bobcats took the first match 3-0, which is a score that does not do the herd’s effort justice.
Still, several key players had good games — Eric Ogaranko had nine kills and Jordon Heppner had six, while Josh Jehle and Kai Boyko scrounged up four digs a piece.
In the second match, the herd was once again in every set except the last.
When closing time rolled around, Bobcats players just made better shots than the Bisons and possessed that proverbial yet elusive “clutch gene.”
Jehle, currently leading CanWest in digs per set, made six more, while Spencer Grahame also had a nice match, swinging efficiently with 10 kills. Sammy Ludwig tallied 31 assists in the match as well, now sitting second in CanWest assists per set with an average of 9.93.
After falling to the Bobcats twice, the herd dropped to 2-2 on the season and sit tenth in CanWest standings.
The men’s team will look to bounce back at Investors Group Athletic Centre as it faces the University of Calgary Dinos Nov. 9 and 10 before co-hosting the Mount Royal University Cougars Nov. 17 and 18 with the women’s team, which will be coming off a bye week.