Gearin' Up For The Semis: Women's Volleyball Clashes Again With Rebels
With just 48 hours left in preparation for the 2018 MCAC Women's Volleyball Final Fours, the defending champion Blazers slide into the Conference's finale in a familiar role as the dark horse. CMU finished their regular season with a record of 10-6 and crash landed last Friday in their final game, a lopsided straight sets loss to first-place Providence.
Their first-round opponents on Saturday afternoon will be the #2 ranked Red River Rebels who are preparing to host their first MCAC Volleyball Championship tournament since 2011. This seasons biggest climbers, the Rebels are a much improved squad from the rotation that snuck into the 2017 MCAC Final Fours on the final day of the regular season. A 3-2 loss to the ACC Cougars prompted a gathering of heads and eventually a tie-break calculation that ended in favour of Red River. At 6 wins and 14 losses, the Rebels were a quick semifinal exit from the 2017 Championships, losing 25-15, 25-20, 25-13 to the Pilots.
Closing their current regular season on a three-match winning streak that included a 3-2 win over Providence on February 8th, the Rebels will carry a record of 11-5 into Saturday's semifinal with CMU. In head-to-head regular season meetings, the Blazers and Rebels are 2-2. Red River took the first two meetings in November 3-2 and 3-1 while CMU outscored the Rebels in the back half of the schedule, 3-0 and 3-1, setting up what is expected to be a "must-see" match on Saturday evening.
"They are a really good defensive team and they are great at targeting weak spots and finding holes against teams," explained CMU head coach Evelyn Kampen. "Individually, Ashley Goodman is a great middle player for them, especially as a blocker." The Rebels rank second in the conference in digs in the 2017-18 season.
"We have worked to improve our blocking and a serve receive", explained Kampen, when asked about how CMU plans to deal with their semifinal opponents. "I think that what we will show them in these two areas will be our biggest weapon in pushing us into the final."
In the other women's semfinal, #1 Providence will meet the #4 ACC Cougars. Providence holds a 3-1 advantage in the season series between the two programs. The Blazers and Rebels step on the court on Saturday afternoon at 4:00 pm at Red River College.