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Pilots women runners-up at NCCAA National Volleyball Championship
The Providence Pilots women’s volleyball team cruised through preliminary play at the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Division II Volleyball Championship, won their semi-final in straight sets, and gave number-one-ranked Maranatha Baptist University a scare en route to a second-place finish in Kissimmee, Florida.
The run of success, which came up just short in the final against a Maranatha side that didn’t drop a single set at the November 12-14 event, marked just the second time in Providence history that the women’s volleyball program progressed to a national final. (The other was back in 2002 when they won the title.)
But the Pilots’ five wins at the tournament, which stretched their seasonal record to an impressive 23-5, was a source of considerable pride to head coach Scott Masterson—a feeling he’s keen for the entire Providence community to share.
“To finish second in the nation is something we can all feel proud about,” he said, referring to the predominantly United States-based NCCAA. “This was a great result for our team and for our program and I hope we can carry this momentum into the rest of our season and into next year.”
Providence opened the competition with a straight-sets win over North Central University on Thursday afternoon and proceeded to beat Pensacola Christian College 3-0 in the evening. On Friday they won two more matches, beating Arlington Baptist Bible College 3-2 and third-ranked Manhattan Christian College 3-1.
They saved their most dominant display of the event for Saturday’s final four encounter with Ozark Christian College, who never put up more than 18 points against the Pilots, and then lost a pair of close sets to Maranatha (25-20 and 25-21) before falling 25-13 to the eventual champions.
“We dealt with a lot of pressure situations really well and found ways to win matches even when we were not playing our best,” analyzed Masterson. “We also dealt with having to play a lot of tough games in a short amount of time. That’s a lot of emotional wear and tear. I thought the girls did a great job handling these things in a professional way.”
Masterson, for his efforts throughout the NCCAA campaign, was awarded the division’s Coach of the Year honours. Shayna Staerk of Winnipeg and LaRae Penner of Steinbach earned places on the All-Tournament Team, and Staerk was also named a 1st Team All-American. Penner was named to the 2nd Team, and Rosenort’s Alison Klassen and Ile Des Chenes’ Emily Van der Meer won Scholar Athlete awards.
“I am very proud of our team for a great week at nationals,” concluded Masterson.
Next up for the women’s volleyball team is a Friday contest with Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference rivals Red River College, and on Saturday they’ll return to Otterburne for a home match against Canadian Mennonite University.
Elsewhere, a convincing win for the men’s basketball team at home to Red River on Friday took the Pilots into second-place on the MCAC ledger. Winnipeg’s Braydon Ayotte and Romeo KC of Falls Church, Virginia scored 16 points apiece in the 80-61 win, which included a first quarter that saw Providence outscore their opponents 22-12.
“Our defense really came through for us in this game,” said head coach Colten Gryba. We were struggling to finish around the hoop and hit some shots we normally would hit, so it was nice to have our defense playing the way it did. Our rebounding was key to the win and our interior players stepped up, which was nice to see.”
The women’s team, meanwhile, lost 49-42 to Red River, thanks in large part to a disappointing third quarter. Isabella Selk led the way for the Pilots with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
“The girls played well for most of the game,” said head coach Joel Coursey. “We struggled in the third quarter but came back with a strong defensive fourth. Overall we played much better than we did last week and I hope it carries forward.”
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