Good Times for the Blazers During Reading Week
A recap of this past week's varsity action
This past week marked the fall reading break for CMU students, but the Blazers basketball and volleyball teams were still in session and enjoyed some good times during their time off from classes.
The lone MCAC action for the Blazers on the week was a Saturday matinee matchup with the Assiniboine Cougars on the volleyball court at the Loewen Athletic Centre. Prior to the match, your Blazers women's volleyball squad was sitting in third place in the MCAC standings with a 1-2 record, just above the 0-3 Cougars. A rookie-heavy lineup took the court for CMU, with rookie setter Paige Wright controlling the offence for the entirety of the match. Two tight set wins for the Blazers had the tensions pretty high in the Loewen before things fell apart for the winless Cougars and CMU cruised to a 3-0 victory, improving their record to 2-2 on the season. Standouts for the Blazers were the left side tandem of rookies Halle Meisner and Rachel Bartel who notched 11 and 8 kills respectively for the team in the quick victory. Add to that five aces each from the service line, and 18 digs in the backcourt for Bartel and you have the recipe for an all-around win. A win by St Boniface over the Providence Pilots in the other MCAC matchup on the weekend puts the Blazers in a tie for second place on points with the Pilots, with the advantage on sets won/lost going the Blazers way at this early point in the year.
On the men's side, the standings had the Blazers men also sitting in third place with a 1-2 record, matching up against a 2-1 Cougar squad sitting above them in the table. Perhaps the snowy and icy conditions outside the gym affected the visitor's play, as the Cougars were never able to find traction against a Blazers team still sour from their two losses in the previous weekend's matchups with Providence. CMU came hard and fast with a service game that ACC struggled to pass, allowing the Blazers to put up a heavy blocking presence on the outside that put the big Brandon hitters on ice. It was a balanced offence for CMU, with kills coming from second-year Cam Gayleard (8), rookie Nathan Penner (5), right sides Matthew Page (3) and Duncan Petrie (3), and the rotating carousel of middles Josh Werbiski (2), Markus Martens (2), and Felix Stetefeld (1), with veteran setter Timothy Juvonen spreading the ball around. The convincing three-set win put the Blazers even on points with the Cougars over whom they now hold the tie break in both head-to-head matchups and sets won/lost, and within striking distance of the first place Pilots, who, in a stunning upset, fell to the fourth place Les Rouges in straight sets at Providence's home barn.
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Earlier in the week, the Blazers basketball squads took to the skies for another CCAA exhibition showcase, this time to neighbouring Ontario, where they matched up with three OCAA opponents in the Hamilton region. The reading week escape started with a Wednesday evening game with the Redeemer Royals in Ancaster. The Royals pushed the Blazers women's basketball team to be at their best, who so far have not been challenged in local MCAC play, but the CMU squad managed to prevail for an 88-72 final. The offence was firing for the Royals in the men's game in front of a raucous home crowd, where the home side poured in 99 points on the Blazers, who just couldn't keep pace, taking a 74-99 loss.
Thursday brought a trip to Canada's Natural Wonder of the World, Niagara Falls, in the morning and afternoon, before heading back down the highway to nearby Welland for a matchup with the Niagara College Knights. The women's game was a tightly defended and low-scoring affair, with the Knights coming out on top, handing the Blazers a 65-69 loss. On the men's side, their Ontario foe's offence was pouring in points again, and the Blazers struggled once again to match their opponent's scoring pace. Down 20 points in the final quarter, the buckets started to fall for CMU's Binh Nguyen, who shortened the Blazer's defecit to 10 points within three minutes, but the comeback fell short with the Knights prevailing over CMU 99-89.
Friday marked the final game day of the trip for the Blazers, who got some exploring time in downtown Hamilton prior to tipoff at Mohawk College with the hometown Mountaineers. The Blazer women avenged their Thursday night lost with a convincing 74-49 win, earning them a 2-1 record on the trip, and a 3-3 overall record in CCAA exhibition play this semester. The Blazers men entered the matchup with the Mountaineers set on earning their first win over CCAA competition this fall, and were within striking distance of doing so late in the game in Hamilton. With only a few minutes left on the clock the Blazers held a five-point lead, but became cold at the free-throw line at the wrong moment, and instead of icing the game, had the lead slip away in the final minutes, leaving them with a sour 95-103 loss.
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Your Blazers are back in action this coming weekend, as the basketball teams take on the St Boniface Rouges on homecourt on Friday while the volleyball squads matchup with Les Rouges in St Boniface. Saturday's games will see the opponents remain the same with the venues reversed to complete the home-and-home weekend matchups.