In a day of volleyball where games followed the script the standings wrote for them, it took a classic MCAC rivalry in the final hour to turn it all on its head.
With a full day of volleyball in the books for the MCAC Volleyball Final Fours at Assiniboine Community College, we now know it will be Providence taking on the University of Winnipeg College Wesmen for the women’s title, and the Pilots against the top-seeded Red River Rebels on the men’s side.
It shouldn’t come to a surprise that a matchup between Canadian Mennonite University and Providence University College pulled out all the stops, but the five-set thriller that took place in the last match of the day brought the fans at ACC even more than expected.
The competition level was high from the very first serve, as it became clear early on that these two teams not only had history, but they were as evenly matched as any two teams in the conference. Providence threw the first blow taking the first set 25-23, but then the Blazers threw it right back, taking the second set 25-23 themselves.
Back-and-fourth was the theme of the match, and when it got down to the fifth set, back-and-fourth was exactly what we would see. Trading point-for-point, MCAC All-Conference selections Matt Friesen, and Joel Kliewer continued to step up to the moment for their teams on offense. That was, until match point where, ironically, it was setter Lucas Pappel who delivered the finishing kill to cap off his exceptional game, and move his team on to the finals.
At first glance, the opening match of the day looked like it could be a blowout, as the College Wesmen came out dominant with 25-8, and 25-11 victories in the first two sets. With their control of the ball and dominant net presence, it didn’t look like Saint-Boniface had any answers for the defending champs.
However, Saint-Boniface didn’t travel to Brandon only to be swept, as they looked like a new team in the third, passing the ball well, controlling the net, and serving in bunches. Led by a strong attack from All-Conference selection Keisha-Mae Kaddu, and Player of the Game Stephanie Rempel, they fought to a 25-17 win in set three.
Although Saint-Boniface was able to piggy-back of their strong third-set to keep things competitive in the fourth, the College Wesmen and Player of the Game Talia Paetsch found a new gear, and turned the match back in their favour, defeating the Les Rouges 25-17.
In the first men’s matchup of the day, the Red River Rebels continued the tear they’ve been on this season by defeating Université de Saint-Boniface in straight sets. This match was a whole lot closer than the sweep would seem, as Saint-Boniface came out firing in the first, until the Rebels over-powered them with a late push to secure a 25-23 victory.
Saint-Boniface had their moments when they frustrated the top-seed, led by a dynamic attack from Jean-Bocar Diallo. But as the match wore on, the Rebels continued firing, and Saint-Boniface just wasn’t able to handle Red River’s star players in All-Conference selection Kevin Bommersbach, and regular season MVP Ty Loewen.
The final women’s match of the day saw the Providence Pilots defeat the hometown Assiniboine Community College Cougars in straight sets. The Pilots looked focused in reclaiming the title they’ve won four of the past five seasons, and the Cougars were the first obstacle in doing that.
Led by a dominant attack from regular season MVP Shayna Staerk, the Pilots out-muscled ACC from the start, jumping to a 7-1 lead to begin the match. They really never looked back after that point, and held the Cougars to under 17 points in each set.
The MCAC continues its Final Fours weekend tomorrow afternoon at Assinboine Community College, as the women’s final begins at 12 pm, with the men following up at 2 pm.
Women’s Volleyball – 12:00 p.m.
Université de Saint-Boniface vs University of Winnipeg College
University of Winnipeg College wins 3-1 (25-8, 25-11, 17-25, 25-17)
Men’s Volleyball – 2:00 p.m.
Red River College vs Université de Saint-Boniface
Red River College wins 3-0 (25-23, 25-22, 25-16)
Women’s Volleyball – 4:00 p.m.
Providence University College vs Assiniboine Community College
Providence University College wins 3-0 (25-12, 25-16, 25-12)
Men’s Volleyball – 6:00 p.m.
Canadian Mennonite University vs Providence University College
Providence University College wins 3-2 (25-23, 23-25, 19-25, 25-20, 16-14)