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Double championship completes memorable year for Providence volleyball
The Providence Pilots volleyball teams were crowned Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference champions on Sunday, completing a memorable year for both the men’s and women’s programs.
Sam Toews’ 12 kills against semi-final opponent Assiniboine Community College and a further 11 against Red River College in the final earned him MVP honours in the men’s play-offs, while Shayna Staerk garnered the women’s MVP award after executing 12 kills against Assiniboine Community College and stunning the University of Winnipeg College for an additional 20.
Men’s head coach Jason Peters, overseeing his final match after 13 years in charge of the men’s team, signed off with a championship, and Scott Masterson, who will be succeeding Peters after six years with the Pilots women, added another title to a campaign already full of them.
Following Saturday’s 3-0 win over ACC in which LaRae Penner contributed nine kills and Sam Bridle put up 32 assists, the Pilots set up a final showdown with the U of W, who had topped the standings during the regular season and lost just twice in 20 matches.
The Wesman, having prevailed in three of four meetings with Providence in 2015-16, edged the first set 25-23 before seeming to put a stranglehold on the trophy with a 25-19 triumph in the second frame.
But that, according to Masterson, was exactly when the Pilots began to embody their motto.
“Our motto down the stretch this season was ‘determination’,” he said. “The team continued to grow in confidence as we took the third and fourth sets, and the fifth set is always a toss-up so we knew he had to stay focussed.”
After getting back into the match with 25-16 and 25-18 conquests, the Providence women put themselves in a championship-point situation at 14-8 and didn’t pass it up.
“I cannot express how proud I am of our team for persevering through the match,” exclaimed Masterson. “It’s been a very special year for us, finishing second at NCCAA (National Christian College Athletic Association) Nationals and regaining the MCAC Championship. It’s obviously a special way for me to end my time as head coach of the women’s program, and I will definitely have great memories from this year.”
Shortly after the women’s celebration the Pilots men took the court for their MCAC final against Red River.
Hans Fehr, who was named Player of the Game, delivered six stuff blocks and regular season MVP Erik Wiebe also impressed with nine kills and 13 digs.
Providence took the first two sets 25-17 and 25-16, and while the Rebels mounted more of a challenge in the third frame they still came up short against a team the MCAC’s official website described as “fine art,” losing 25-22.
“We were so excited to play in the final at home, and the crowd didn’t disappoint,” remarked Peters, citing the energetic supporters who filled the Otterburne gymnasium through the weekend. “Our goal was simple: to be at our best and challenge our opponents to play with us. We felt all along that we could take our game to a level the rest of the league wasn’t able to get to.”
Between the end of November and Sunday’s final the Pilots lost only one of 15 matches and dropped just five sets.
“I can’t say enough about the character and make-up of this team,” said Peters. I know this season will be remembered by these guys for a long time. The future of Providence volleyball is looking great.”
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