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Pilots women’s volleyball team serves up valiant effort in MCAC Championships
The Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Championships took place on February 25 and 26 at l’Iniversite de Saint-Boniface, and the Providence Pilots women’s volleyball team entered atop their division, favoured to defend their title.
On the 25th the Pilots faced fourth-ranked Red River College in their semi-final matchup. Providence dominated the game, winning in straight sets, and head coach Kyle Guenther remarked afterward that it was one of his side’s best performances of the season.
The next day the MCAC final featured the Pilots taking on their rivals—second-ranked Canadian Mennonite University. The Pilots struggled early, dropping the first two sets, but then regathered themselves, putting on a display Guenther would later describe as “a perfect definition of who we are as a team.”
Providence roared back, winning the next two sets 25-22 and 25-13 to push the final to a decisive fifth frame. However, after some fluctuating volleyball, the Pilots lost 13-15.
Setter Sam Bridle led the way with an impressive 87 assists and 13 digs, and star left-side Shayna Staerk and senior LaRae Driedger executed 26 kills each. Guenther praised the efforts of both Providence and CMU in the final, and highlighted the positivity of the Pilots’ mindset.
“We responded to the pressure and the adversity and won two sets in almost convincing fashion,” he said. “When a volleyball match gets to a fifth set, it’s anyone’s game. We came out on the losing end of a hard-fought match but we could not hang our heads after this one. Both teams played at such a high level and it’s too bad one team had to lose on that day. Our women remained positive throughout the whole match and they showed so much character during the entire season.”
Guenther also highlighted Driedger and her career at Providence.
“She is a very special volleyball player, but also a phenomenal person and leader on this team,” he said. “She has had an incredible career at Providence and gave everything she had every time she took the court. We will miss her greatly.”
In men’s action the Pilots lost their February 25 semi-final in three sets to Les Rouges de l’Universite de Saint-Boniface, although second-year left side Adrian Dyck stood out with 11 kills, 2 digs and 1 ace. Fourth-year setter Lucas Pappel added 28 assists, 2 digs, 1 block and 1 ace to the cause.
“This was a very disappointing loss for us. It was one of those matches where everything we tried to do was a little off and everything they did worked,” analyzed head coach Scott Masterson. “We did our best to stay patient and keep fighting for every point, but it was too little, too late. We went down big at the start of every set, and it proved to be too much to fight back in all three, especially when we weren’t able to execute nearly to the level we had hoped.
Masterson also pointed to the small numerical size of his squad and a “transition year” following the exit of long-term coach Jason Peters, and he expressed optimism that the Pilots men can regain the championship next season.
“We are working hard on recruiting for next year to ensure we have more numbers,” he said. “We will hopefully have a chance at another championship.”


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