BRANDON, Man. – The defending conference champion Bobcats dropped a dramatic five-set match against the Alberta Golden Bears on Friday night at the Healthy Living Centre.
The setback snapped the Bobcats near invincible run of success at the HLC with it being their regular season loss at the HLC since November 2017.
BU played without Canada West all-star Seth Friesen and conference rookie of the year Robin Baghdady, who missed the match with upper body injuries.
Photo Credit: Milana Paddock
Sophomore Max Brook and other up-and-comers stepped into the starting lineup with Brook recording six kills, while rookie Jens Watt added seven kills and eight digs.
The No. 9 nationally ranked Golden Bears used a late 7-1 run to win an emotionally charged first set. Alberta hit a sizzling .375, while the Bobcats were .133.
The Bears raced out to a 4-0 lead to start the second and back-to-back service aces by Jordan Canham put them ahead 9-4. Alberta led 16-11 at the technical timeout and controlled the remainder of the set.
Brandon trailed 23-21 in the third, before national player of the year Elliott Viles delivered three massive kills down the stretch to get the Bobcats back in the game. BU staved off a pair of match points and prevailed in overtime to avoid the sweep.
The No. 2 ranked Bobcats came through in the clutch in the fourth. BU's 5-0 run gave them a 21-18 lead and they forced five by chalking up the final three points of the frame.
The Bears re-gained the momentum in the fifth with George Hobern scoring two service aces to give Alberta an 8-3 lead at the turn. BU trimmed the deficit to 13-11, before Jackson Kennedy scored two straight kills to give the Bears the win.
"I was struggling earlier in the game, so I knew the boys needed me to be better from the service line. I just went back to the line and cleared my mind" said Hobern.
Viles finished with 17 kills as the Bobcats fell to 11-2 and slipped into second-place in the standings with the Trinity Western Spartans in top spot at 12-1.
Meanwhile, Kennedy and Canham collected 17 kills apiece as the Bears improved to 9-4.
The conference heavyweights meet in the rematch at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday.