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Men's Volleyball Puts On A Show At MCAC Championships

The Providence Pilots Men’s Volleyball team has been fun to watch all season. This young team has played with a passion that has been unmatched by any team in their league this year. The MCAC Championships was the perfect example of this style of play.

In a highly anticipated semi-final match against their biggest rival, CMU Blazers, the Pilots would need to bring this passion and execute their game plan almost perfectly to clinch a spot in the Championship game. The Pilots got the start they wanted by taking a very tight first set 25-23. Both teams had their chances to take the second set but it was the Blazers who found the edge late in the set and tied the match after taking it 25-23. The Blazers kept the momentum going in the third set and found themselves up two sets to one after winning the third 25-19. With the Pilots season on the line, freshman Matt Friesen answered the call and took over the fourth set. Whether in the front row or back, Matt was ending points all over the court. Providence stormed back and captured the fourth set 25-20. It was only fitting that these two rivals would go to a fifth and deciding set. In this set, the boisterous crowd seemed to get both teams to bring their games to the next level. It was point for point the whole way with no team getting a definite edge over the other. CMU had the first match point at 14-13. Head Coach for the Pilots, Jason Peters, took a timeout at this point which turned out to be exactly what Providence needed. As the crowd grew louder, the Pilots tied the set, and rattled of the next two points to take the match three sets to two.

Matt Friesen led the Pilots with 22 kills, 2 aces and 5 digs. Fellow freshman Zach Noga added 12 kills of his own and 12 digs.

"Great match for our guys. We talked all week about how it would probably come down to a two point spread in the 5th set,” Coach Jason Peters said of their semi-final win. “Our guys stuck to the game plan, and stayed patient. Lucas ran a great offence and we got everybody's best effort. Our guys showed so much character in this one."

By winning the semi-final, the Pilots earned a shot at the MCAC Championship against the undefeated Red River Rebels. The Rebels showed why they hadn’t lost a match all season by out-muscling the Pilots in the early going. With a strong attack from Red River, Providence just couldn’t get their teeth in the match and found themselves down a set quickly. In the second set, the play picked up on the Pilots side of the net. The set stayed fairly tight right until the end where the Rebels were able to take a demanding two sets to none lead. The young Providence team would not go down that easy however. The Pilots started to play the way they had the day before and kept pace with the Rebels attack. Freshman Hans Fehr, a St. Pierre product, had a massive stuff block which seemed to turn the tides at the business end of the third set. Clutch play from setter Lucas Pappel earned them the set. The fourth set was where the fireworks started. Providence came out flying, punishing the Rebels with strong attacking and great defense. It was midway through the set where the Rebels started to even things out. After going point for point for the entire second half of the set, each team had an opportunity to win with multiple set-points. But at 29-28, the Rebels had Providence on the ropes, and officially capped off their undefeated season, capturing their 30th point of the set.

The final score from the Championship match was 25-16, 25-22, 23-25, 30-28. Matt Friesen once again led the Pilots with 12 kills and 6 digs. Hans Fehr added 6 kills and 6 stuff block. Zach Noga got 9 more kills from the right side to cap his impressive weekend.

"We knew we would have to be at our best against Red Reiver. They were undefeated for a reason,” Peters commented after the Championship. “I thought we struggled the first two sets to find our confidence, but we responded really well after that. Sets 3 and 4 were much like how we had played in the Semi Final. In the end it wasn't quite enough, but I am so proud of the fight we showed. We were one unfortunate call from being in the 5th set. We left nothing on the floor and we can hold our heads high."

“This is one of my favorite years as coach of this program, and that is a direct result of the guys on our team,” Coach Jason Peters reflects on the season. “We were so young, yet there was a maturity with our group that I have rarely seen in the years at Providence. Every day at practice, our guys showed up to work. We had some ups and downs with some injuries, and we unexpectedly lost a key player at the start of the second semester. However, somehow this didn't drag us down at all, but instead it made us better.”

“The future is bright for our program. We were probably the youngest team in the league this year and that bodes well for us heading into next year. I anticipate a very strong core returning next year to try and win a title on home soil. We were led all season long by Lucas Pappel, who in only his 2nd season as a Setter, has become one the top guys at his position in the league. Matt Friesen led the MCAC in kills and had one of the best seasons a Freshmen our program has ever had. The emergence of Hans Fehr is also exciting, as he is heading for big things in the Middle going into his second year. Many others contributed greatly to our success also and we can't wait to get started again in the fall.”

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