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Providence Women's Volleyball Has Strong Performance at Nationals

The Providence Women’s Volleyball team represented the North Central Region at the NCCAA National Championships for the seventh year in a row this past week. The Pilots entered the tournament as the seventh seed out of 10 teams. Pool play would decide who would make the final four as only the top two teams in each pool would make the playoffs. Providence was looking to earn a spot in the playoffs for the first time since they won the National title in 2002.

The number three seed, Kentucky Christian University, was the first opponent for the Pilots. Providence started off as well as they could passing well, putting Kentucky in tough with heavy attacking and playing excellent defense. Katelyn Corbin had 12 digs and Brooke Paulsen added 10 of her own to neutralize the strong Kentucky offense. Despite playing two very strong sets, Providence found themselves down 0-2 heading into the third. Kentucky held the momentum and were firing on all cylinders. The third set went the way of KCU as they swept Providence 25-23, 25-21, 25-15. Senior Lauren Toews led all attackers with 11 kills in the match.

The Pilots looked to rebound from their morning loss as they took on the tenth seeded West Coast Baptist team from California. The Pilots were in control of this match from start to finish as they showed a balanced attack and continued playing great defense. Lauren Toews once again led the way with 12 kills in the match and freshman Brooke Paulsen was on fire on defense with 10 digs. Providence took the match in three sets 25-15, 25-14, 25-17 and improved to 1-1 in their pool.

With the loss to Kentucky the day before, Providence would have to upset the number two seed and eight time defending champion Clearwater Christian College to have a chance at the final four. A nightmare start would have the Pilots down two sets fairly quickly. With their backs against the wall, Providence pulled out their best volleyball after that. Clearwater would continue to pressure with a heavy attack but senior Katelyn Corbin would show her experience and leadership in the back row with dig after dig. Corbin amassed 24 digs in the match to give her team chances to counter. The Pilots pulled off the third set in dramatic fashion and carried the momentum into the fourth. A back and forth set saw the Pilots cling to a one or two point advantage most of the set. At the tail end, Providence had a set point to force a fifth and deciding set. Clearwater scrambled and countered with some great plays of their own to squander the lone set point Providence would have. The Pilots forced extra points in the set but ended up falling to the Cougars 25-16, 25-20, 22-25, 28-26. The two freshmen left sides for Providence had the best games of their season as Shayna Staerk of Winnipeg had 17 kills and 18 digs while Brooke Paulsen from Oakbank had 9 kills and 16 digs. As a team, the Pilots had 81 digs and 48 kills in the match.

Providence dropped to 1-2 in pool play which eliminated them from final four contention. The Pilots would finish off their tournament against Manhattan Christian College. Manhattan, the sixth seed, had beaten Providence in straight sets earlier in the year and present a tough match for Providence. Having played a great match against Clearwater, the Pilots brought the same energy and execution into this match. With great ball control and a balanced attack, Providence got their revenge on Manhattan and ended their National tournament with a straight set victory 25-23, 25-19, 25-23. Shayna Staerk continued her excellent play with 13 kills and 8 digs while another freshman, LaRae Penner, added 8 kills of her own. Katelyn Corbin finished off the best National tournament she has ever played with 12 digs to give her a team best 54 digs for the week.

“With how young our team is, with 9 freshmen and only 2 seniors, I thought we played exceptionally well at nationals,” Head Coach Scott Masterson commented after the team returned.” “I think our two seniors, Lauren and Katelyn, played their best volleyball of their careers and lead both on and off the floor. We couldn’t have asked for more from either of them. And our freshmen players that played did an outstanding job of playing in a high pressure situation and played quality volleyball, made great decisions, and played aggressively. We really couldn’t have asked for more out of our players."

"It’s unfortunate that we were not able to make it out of our pool into the semi-finals. I thought we were starting to play our best volleyball of the season and really only came up a few points short. I thought we had the quality of a top 4 team at that tournament and unfortunately we just missed out on proving that.”

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