BRANDON, Man. – Home court setbacks have been few and far between for the Bobcat men's volleyball team in recent memory, but this weekend the Alberta Golden Bears found a chink in BU's armour at the Healthy Living Centre.
The defending conference champion Bobcats dropped a four-set decision against the Bears on Saturday for their first back-to-back regular season home losses since the 2015-16 season. Alberta won the opening match in a five-set thriller on Friday.
"I knew it would be quite the battle and hard fought," said second-year Alberta outside hitter Jordan Canham. "It is quite the momentum builder."
Canham and George Hobern both had 13 kills for the Bears who improved their record to 10-4.
Brandon played without conference all-star Seth Friesen and Canada West rookie of the year Robin Baghdady for a second straight night due to upper body injuries. BU shuffled the lineup Saturday with Travis Walls and Bryston Keck getting the chance to turn the Bobcats fortunes around after being dealt adversity to start the second-half.
Keck had a team-high five blocks, while Walls recorded four kills and an ace for the Bobcats.
"I got an opportunity and just made the best of it and hoped it could bring the guys up with me," said Keck. "Unfortunately, we let it slip in the fourth set, but I think it was good to build without our main guys on the court."
The Bears' whopping .409 hitting percentage powered them to victory in the opening set. Alberta then used a 7-0 run to help set the stage for the win in the second set.
Brandon got back into the match in the third and led 16-13 at the technical timeout. Hunter Stewart scored a service ace to tie it 18-18 and Bryan Fountain dialed up an ace of his own to put the Bears in front 24-23. National player of the year Elliott Viles staved off match point for the 'Cats and added the final two kills in an electrifying overtime.
The Bears re-gained momentum in the fourth and used a 7-1 run down to stretch to push them to the finish line.
Reece Dixon reached a special milestone in a losing effort for Brandon. His 38 assists allowed him to become just the eighth player in Canada West history to reach 3,000 career assists.
Viles finished with 23 kills for the Bobcats, who slipped to 11-3 and sit tied with the UBC Thunderbirds for second-place in the standings.
BU hits the road to take on the Calgary Dinos this coming weekend, while Alberta goes up against cross-town rival the MacEwan Griffins on January 17-18.