After two relatively tame women’s semifinal games at Universite de Saint-Boniface, the first of the men’s semifinals game did not disappoint.
With a large home crowd dressed up and excited to celebrate the final night of Winnipeg’s popular Festival du Voyageur, the French-inspired crowd was loud, proud and heavily in favour of the home team Les Rouges. Providence won the Men’s Volleyball Championship at home last season in front of their own crowd so it seemed fitting that this year they’d be subjected to the feeling of playing on the road in enemy territory.
USB won the first set in a tightly played first set. The building was the loudest it had been all day and the energy had begun to peak, making each point feel bigger than
Team captain, Nico Marcon-Lajeunesse admits that there was a sense of relief after they won the first set but that USB Head coach, Guy Bourgeois’ message kept them on task.
“Stay focused and not to get ahead of ourselves. We were playing great but at that point we hadn’t accomplished anything yet. We knew they were a great team and totally capable of coming back from a few points deficit so he just kept reminding us we had to keep going”.
The shock of dropping the first set seemed to hang over PUC’s next frame as they still couldn’t seem to get a lead over a surging USB side. 2016-17 Most Valuable Player, Adrian Dyck, was keyed on by USB extremely well and rarely had less than a double block to deal with. Dyck played quite well on the day and had some very big, timely kills for PUC, but USB did a great job at neutralizing his offence and answering PUC’s attack with their own All-Conference selection, outside hitter Eric Dornez.
Lucas Pappel, PUC’s setter and another member of the Men’s All-Conference team, was solid for the Pilots throughout the game and gave them a solid chance at attack despite some frantic rallies. It wasn’t the best defensive outing that Providence could have hoped for but Pappel got a number of sub-par passes distributed to his hitters in impressive fashion.
As the third set drew closer to the 25th point, PUC had clawed their way back after looking down and out. A couple of time outs were taken by either side to prevent any runs from getting too big but ultimately Providence ran out of time with the lead they had given up in the third.
Universite de Saint-Boniface will see Canadian Mennonite University tomorrow in the Men’s Final at 3 pm. They will be looking to win their first MCAC Men’s Volleyball Championship since 2006.