Women's Volleyball Upset Gives Blazers A Chance To Repeat
The Blazers and Providence Pilots are set to meet again in the MCAC Women's Volleyball Championship after CMU upset the #2 ranked Red River Rebels in four sets on Saturday afternoon.
The biggest climbers from 2016-17 to 2017-18, the Rebels were unable to find their rhythm in a nerve-filled first set that saw the playoff-tested Blazers jump ahead 14-8 before Women's Volleyball Coach of the Year Dan MacGregor was forced to wave for his team's first timeout. Despite his team talk and inspiration, the Rebels would see CMU jump ahead 1-0 as left-side Haley Ginter pounded the final kill in a 25-20 first set win.
Conference co-MVP Ashley Goodwin along with scrappy backrow ace Anika Gray would give everything they could to recover the match for Red River. The second set saw Goodwin show her prowess from the service line and the front row while Gray rallied her rotation with her efforts to keep points alive. The duo combined to give the Rebels a 24-15 lead only to see CMU's Chloe Friesen serve her team to a 5-0 run, forcing a Rebels timeout at 24-20. Friesen would do more than just serving on the afternoon, as the first-year middle co-led the Blazers with 10 kills while adding 3 stuff blocks from the front row. The Rebels would ultimately capture the set from the timeout, 25-20, tying the match at one game each.
Like two heavyweights, the Blazers and Rebels went blow for blow in the decisive third set, each team determined to take a lead into the fourth. Tied 18-18, fifth-year outside hitter Rachel Oswald helped CMU with two points from the service line and forced a Rebels timeout. With a 20-18 lead, Oswald wouldn't be stopped as the former Kildonan East Reiver continued her serving for five additional points and drove the Blazers to a run of 7 points and a 25-18 win.
The game of runs continued in the fourth. Red River wrestled back momentum with a 10-5 lead only to see the Blazers collect themselves to pull within a point, 12-11. After a sideout made it 13-11, the Rebels would run for 4 to lead 16-11.
Fresh off her first MCAC All-Conference selection, rookie setter Renee Desroches took the offense into her young but capable hands. After tying the fourth set 20-20, the former Dauphin Clipper would dump for a kill to give CMU a one-point advantage and follow that with an assist to Ginter who made it 22-20 win one emphatic swing. Ginter would score again on match point to give the Blazers a 25-22 set victory, taking the match 3-1.
Desroches would be selected the Player of the Game, scoring 34 assists and adding 4 crafty kills. Oswald and Friesen would each score 10 kills for the Blazers while Jana Klassen counted 16 digs to lead her team.
The defending Champions will have one more test in their 2017-18 season; a return encounter with the Providence Pilots on Sunday afternoon at 3:00 pm in the MCAC Women's Volleyball Final at Red River College. The Blazers and Pilots hold a head-to-head record of 2-2 in four regular season meetings. Providence finished on top of the standings with a total of 12 wins with only 4 losses while CMU finished third at 10 wins and 6 defeats.