BRANDON – The Brandon Bobcats showed some late signs of life but it was too little too late as the visiting Mount Royal Cougars picked up a big 3-1 (25-20, 25-15, 24-26, 25-23) win to move one step closer to clinching a playoff spot on Saturday evening at the BU Healthy Living Centre.
The Cougars took the first two sets before Brandon went on a late charge brought on by the loud home-side crowd on senior night. The Bobcats fought off match point in the third before taking the set, and held a late 23-16 lead in the fourth, appearing to be in position to force a fifth and deciding set.
Mount Royal had other ideas however, as the Cougars managed a 9-0 run to close out the fourth set and the match.
The teams entered with identical 10-11 records in a three-way tie with Manitoba for seventh, after Friday's five-set thriller.
The Cougars were efficient on offence in the first set, hitting .351 as a team. The Bobcats staved off three set points on Sami Love serves, but it wasn't enough as Mount Royal took it 25-20.
The second set was far more one-sided in favour of the Cougars, but Brandon managed to battle back before the improbable end from Mount Royal.
Most importantly, the win moves Mount Royal to 11-11 on the season, leap-frogging the Bobcats in the standings.
Brandon now sits with a record of 10-12 in conference play on the season.
Fifth-year outside Alex Donaghy led the Cougars with 17 kills for a .342 attack efficiency to go with eight digs and five blocks.
Nikala Majewski matched Donaghy on offense, finishing with 17 kills for the Bobcats while Rayvn Wiebe contributed 12 kills.
Rookie libero Caitlin Le had a match-high 15 digs.
Playing in her final home match as a Bobcat, Mary Thomson recorded a double-double with 38 assists and 11 digs before being sent off with a standing ovation from the home crowd following her senior night presentation. It was the final home match for Thomson and fellow fifth-year Ashley Hosfeld.
Mount Royal's weekend sweep sets up a crucial final weekend of conference matches next weekend, as the Cougars play a home-and-home series with the Calgary Dinos.
The Bobcats will head to Edmonton to play a pair of matches against the Alberta Pandas.