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Providence Pilots men’s volleyball team gets off to a flyer
2015-10-13
 
The Providence Pilots men’s volleyball team marked Thanksgiving weekend with a finals appearance in a pre-season tournament at Red River College.
 
After beating the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers 2-0 in a best-of-three match the Pilots triumphed over the host Rebels before coming up short against a Red River alumni squad. But after rebounding with a straight-sets win over the Assiniboine Community College Cougars they set up a rematch with the alumni for the competition championship.
 
This time Providence forced a third and decisive set, where they were edged 25-23.
 
Nevertheless, the showing bodes well for the Pilots, who will open their regular season schedule away to the Cougars on October 23.
 
“Our group came together very well. We have an athletic, big, and scrappy team and I like our chances this year, but we have a lot of work to do,” reflected head coach Jason Peters. “I think this is the most versatile team we’ve had in a while here, with most of our guys able to contribute at different positions and in different roles.”
 
Unfortunately, the news wasn’t quite as good on the soccer side as both the men’s and women’s teams were beaten by National Christian College Athletic Association heavyweights Maranatha Baptist University on Friday.
 
Men’s champions in 2014, the Sabercats came from behind to edge the Pilots 3-2 in Watertown, Wisconsin after Niverville’s Steve Ruchkall opened the scoring in the ninth minute. Ruchkall got his second in the 37th to restore the guests’ lead following Timothy Rogers’ equaliser, but a Wira Wama brace in the second half put Maranatha in front to stay.
 
Providence goalkeeper Liam Hodges once again impressed with nine saves, but the Pilots were unable to collectively withstand the hosts’ barrage after the restart.
 
“Considering the long journey and that we were missing some important players I thought we did well against last year’s national champions,” remarked head coach Martin Ward. “Steve Ruchkall had two well-taken goals that twice put us ahead, but they are a very good team and we just could not hold them out in the second half.”
 
Hodges’ sister Kiran (both are from MacGregor) made seven stops in just over an hour between the sticks for the guests and shared goalkeeping duties with Winnipeg’s Rebecca Fentum-Jones in an 8-0 loss on the women’s side.
 
Currently ranked atop the NCCAA, the Sabercats launched 41 shots at the Providence target and Natascha Vinz notched a hat-trick.
 
“It was a very difficult game for us,” said coach Joel Coursey, pointing out that his team was reduced to 10 players just 15 minutes into the match. “In our situation I think the girls did well holding the nationally-ranked number-one team to only eight goals.”
 
The Pilots women will next face the Canadian Mennonite University Blazers in Otterburne on Saturday before rounding out their Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference schedule against the Red River College Rebels on Sunday in Winnipeg.
 
The men, meanwhile, will be in Winnipeg to take on Universite de Staint-Boniface on Wednesday and must also make up Monday’s postponed match with Les Rouges.
 
Matches at home to CMU and away to Red River await as well and will be vital to the Pilots’ play-off positioning. They’re presently third in the province.
 
Providence will host the MCAC soccer play-offs on October 24 and 25.
 
(Photos courtesy Bridger Buchi for MBU Communications.)
 
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