Brandon comes from behind, takes bronze in five sets

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Courtesy of Laval University sports information office

March 4, 2013, Quebec City (CIS) – Trailing two sets to none and 22-20 in the third, the tournament favourite Brandon Bobcats rallied and won a 3-2 battle against the Western Mustangs to capture the bronze medal of the CIS men’s volleyball championship Sunday afternoon at PEPS Stadium in Quebec City.

The Bobcats reach the national podium for the third time in as many CIS tourney appearances in their history, as the Canada West champions were finalists in 2011 and bronze medallists in 2009. As for the Mustangs, the OUA finalists, the fourth place is an improvement after their 2012 seventh position.

“After set two, we told our guys we worked too hard this year to let it go now. It was time to empty the gas tank and put everything we had into it and thankfully the boys did,” analyzed Brandon’s head coach Grant Wilson.

“It was really important to bounce back and win the bronze medal. We came here to win, and losing twice in a row would not have been the way we wanted for sure. Today was our gold medal and thankfully we pulled it out,” added Wilson.

“We really came out and played strong, that second set was a classic. Once Brandon started to get some momentum, boy did they play well! They made so few errors and they blocked us. It was hard to stay positive because they just dominated,” commented Western’s man in charge, Jim Sage.

“We fought hard and we had chances. We are still learning on how to compete at this level. Each year we take a step further. We came a little bit short, but I’m really proud of the guys,” added Sage.

The Bobcats took an early 4-1 lead into the match. The Mustangs were able to close the gap, levelling the score at 10 a piece. Western continued on to take a 16-12 lead at the mandatory break. Brandon couldn’t close down the gap and the OUA finalists took the first frame by a score of 25-21.

Western kept the momentum on its side to start the second set. The Mustangs kept Brandon at bay, although without escaping completely. The Bobcats even took the lead for the first time of the set at 15-14, before leading into the technical pause at 16-15. Extra points were needed to crown a set winner, as Western’s Garrett May (Toronto, ON) and Brandon’s Sam Tuivai (Auckland, NZ) both gave quite a show on attack. At 35-34 in favour of the Ontario representatives, a Brandon service error led to a decisive kill from Luke Sim (Toronto, ON) to allow Western to take a 2-0 lead.

Brandon struck first in the third, building up a 6-3 lead early on. The Mustangs once again showed tenacity, coming from behind to make the race exciting. The Canada West champions were up by one at the technical timeout, but Western showed some teeth and took the lead at 22-20, ready to close the game and capture the bronze medal. Brandon didn’t see it that way though. The Bobcats rallied and scored five of the following six points to take a first set at 25-23.

The Bobcats seemed determined to push the game to the limit, jumping to a fast 10-6 lead in the fourth. While ahead 16-10 at the break, Brandon saw Western try everything to get back into the set, but the OUA team could never rack up enough points to be a threat. Meanwhile, middle Dan Boutwell (Kenora, ON) multiplied kills helping the Bobcats grab the frame 25-18.

The momentum was definitely on Brandon’s side, who started the set with fierce, getting a 7-2 lead thanks to great passing from setter Garrett Popplestone (Brandon, MB). Western came back to within two points at 14-12, but Popplestone completed the work himself with a great trick play at the net which gave the victory to his team.

Middle Dan Boutwell was selected player of the match for the Bobcats and Garrett May received the same honour for the Mustangs.

Championship website: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/index

STAT LEADERS

Boxscore: http://english.cis-sic.ca/championships/mvball/2013/championship

Brandon

Kills: Roy Ching (18), Sam Tuivai, Dan Boutwell (17)

Points: Dan Boutwell (22), Sam Tuivai (20,5)

Blocks: Dan Boutwell (5)

Digs: Garrett Popplestone (15)

Service aces: Brendan White (2)

Player of the match: Dan Boutwell

Western

Kills: Garrett May (24), Justin Scapinello (19)

Points: Garrett May (25,5), Justin Scapinello (20,5)

Blocks: Luke Sim (2)

Digs: Alan Screaton (17)

Service aces: Phil James (2)

Player of the match: Garrett May

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