MacEwan Athletics and Brandon Athletics
BRANDON – The score line was the same as Friday – a 3-0 loss for the MacEwan Griffins men's volleyball team in a visit to the Bobcats' gym – but their performance couldn't be more different.
Although the statistics from the 25-18, 25-13, 25-21 defeat aren't flattering – chiefly a 0.83 per cent hitting percentage – the details were.
"Our numbers weren't great, but it was a completely different feel amongst the team the way we competed," said head coach Brad Poplawski. "The first and third set, we were right there. We let it get away from us in the second with some passing. That happens. But our first and third, we were right there to 20s and then they pushed. That's why they're the number 5 team in the country. They can do those things."
Brandon University's first big boost of offence came early as an 8-0 run put the home team ahead 10-5. The Bobcats started strong and they finished in style with a 6-2 surge sealing up the first set.
The second set followed a similar script with BU jumping out to a 7-1 advantage. Brandon's lead went from comfortable to commanding following a 9-1 run that built their lead to 17-6.
In the third, the Griffins came out strong out of the gate and grabbed a 7-2 lead, but BU countered with a 6-1 surge to tie it. The two teams traded points from that point on, but a mini string of three consecutive points by the Bobcats paid big dividends down the stretch.
Seth Friesen had a match-high 16 kills for Brandon, which clinched a Canada West playoff spot with the win. Elliot Viles added 12 kills and was involved in five total blocks for BU.
Shane Kerrison and Ryan Zachary were the top scorers for the Griffins with six kills each.
"I was much happier with our performance," said Poplawski. "Again, I'm always going to hate losing. Losing isn't what we want. But their ranking is well earned and well deserved.
"At least on our end, we did some of the things we wanted to do. We served much better tonight. More than half of our passing numbers were OK. I thought Jonathan (Mohler) ran a better offence. They're just a very good blocking team. Our numbers don't reflect some of the choices we made."
Brandon improves to 14-6, while MacEwan falls to 2-18. The Griffins next head out on the road as they clash with the Calgary Dinos on Feb. 9-10.
There are plenty of takeaways for a young Griffins team as they continue to try to get better each game down the stretch.
"I'm much more proud of the group's performance today and told them as much," said Poplawski. "That was more the team I want to see.
"Again, it's a loss on the scoreboard, but we're just not at that level yet, that's the reality. They're a team that has national championship aspirations. That's a pretty good group and we have to learn from these teams if we ever want to get to that level.
"How do we perform at this level? What sorts of things do they do? That's where we're trying to take it."