Riding High When It Matters; Men's Volleyball Finishes On Fire
Men's Volleyball made a big step forward on Friday night defeating the Providence Pilots 3-1 (25-20, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20) in front of a capacity crowd in the Loewen Athletic Centre. Winners of ten in row and leaders of the conference, the soaring Pilots carried a 10-1 record into the final regular season match of 2015-16.
"We were pretty confident that we could pull off a win against them," said third-year setter Jason Friesen, "most of the sets have been really close, we just hadn't been able to get it done in our previous meetings."
The Blazers got off to a quick start in the first set taking it 25-20, but the real tipping point in the match came in the second set with Providence serving on set point (25-24), Friesen quick-set Makoy Penner to score a sideout to keep the set alive. Ahead 26-25 with John Nieckarz on the service line, it was Penner again, this time on defense, who stuffed the Pilots attack to give CMU a 27-25 win and a 2-0 lead that they would not squander.
"We knew if we cut down on our errors, things could start to go our way." added Friesen. The setter noted the outstanding play of fourth-year libero Thomas Friesen. "Our libero made some remarkable digs to keep plays alive for us and his serve-receive tonight was unreal."
Despite dropping the third set to the conference leaders, the Blazers charged into the fourth set and won it 25-20 to take the match, moving their record to 7-5, good to secure the MCAC's second seed entering next weekend's conference championships that will be hosted in Otterburne, Manitoba.
"Our focus is still on Red River right now (who CMU will meet on February 27th in the semifinals)," added third year outside hitter Joel Kliewer, "we can't look past them. The key for us will be to limit our errors and hold them from making any runs. We have to be in control of the game and sideout after every point or two."
The other Men's semifinal will see the Pilots take host the emerging ACC Cougars, who after many seasons floundering with few wins in the conference have seen a real turnaround in 2015-16 and though an upset against the 10-2 Pilots seems unlikely, the Cougars appear to be a program on the rise.