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Not a Flaw in Iowa-
Freemen undefeated against DII teams in dual-division NIVC Tourney
Providence’s men’s volleyball squad gave a promising performance March 6th & 7th at the University of Iowa’s Black & Gold Classic. The team earned a 5th place finish at the NIVC dual-division (Division I & II) tournament after posting an impressive 3-2 overall record, including a 2-0 record against fellow Division II teams.
“We played pretty well this weekend against what turned out to be first class competition,” Freemen head coach Jason Peters said of his squad’s performance. “We faced a higher level of competition than we have so far this year in league play, and we handled ourselves pretty well.”
Coach Peters was also excited with his squad’s performance specifically in comparison to the other Division II teams at the tournament. “Our final result of 5th place had us tied as the top Division II team in the event,” Peters said.
The Freemen started off the Saturday’s portion of the tourney against St. Olaf College, a Division II team from Northfield, Minnesota. The Freemen took the first two sets with identical 25-21 scores. St. Olaf responded by taking a tight third set 25-22, but the Freemen finished them off in the with a dominant 25-10 fourth set to take the match (25-21, 25-21, 22-25, 25-10). Freshmen Delmer Krahn (19 kills, 4 stuff blocks) and Kevin Hildebrand (12 kills, 2 stuff blocks) led the Freemen offensive attack.
The Div. I University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh team from Oshkosh, Wisconsin was Providence’s next opponent. The Freemen started out on the right foot as they took the first set 25-21. However, a highly skilled Wisconsin-Oshkosh struck back with a vengeance as they dominated the second set and then found the finishing touch first in the third and fourth sets to take the match (21-25, 25-13, 25-22, 25-22). Providence saw big outputs from Krahn (9 kills, 2 stuff blocks) and Hildebrand (8 kills), as well as sophomore Josh Friesen (6 kills, 3 stuff blocks).
Sunday’s action then saw the format change from a best-of–five to a best-of-three format as squads faced a hectic schedule to finish the weekend.
Providence’s first match-up of the day was University of Western Illinois, a Div. II squad that hailed from Macomb, Illinois. In what was a match dominated by the Freemen, Providence held their opponent to single digits in the first and controlled the second throughout en route to an impressive and quick two-set victory (25-9, 25-19). The Freemen freshmen once again led the offense as Dallen Klassen (7 kills, 2 digs) and Hildebrand (6 kills) put in outstanding performances.
The Freemen then hoped to take advantage of their momentum as they faced a well-respected Florida International University Div. I squad from Miami, Florida. The two squads would give the most exciting and tightest match of the day as every set was only won by the minimum two point differential. Providence continued to roll as they shocked the crowd by taking the first set 26-24. Florida then returned the favor by taking the next set by a slim 25-23 score. The two squads then went to the tiebreaker which once again required extra points. With Providence gaining the first advantage at 15-14 captain Paul Warkentin thundered out what coach Peters referred to as a “dramatic ace serve for the victory”, as the Freemen took the back-and-forth match (26-24, 23-25, 16-14). The Freemen were led by the double-K combo of Klassen (10 kills, 3 digs) and Krahn (9 kills)
Providence’s last match of the tournament pinned them against yet another DI squad from Whitewater, Wisconsin in the University of Wisconsin Whitewater. However, U of WW proved to be too tough an opponent for the Freemen following such an emotional victory, and the crew from Whitewater took the match in two straight sets (25-19, 25-20). Freshman Krahn (6 kills) and Hildebrand (5 kills) one again led the Freemen offense.
Coach Peters left the weekend pleased with his side’s performance, as they went undefeated against DII teams and were even able to take one away from the stiff DI competition. However, the biggest positive Peters took away from the weekend was his players’ ability to fill the roles given to them.
“Overall, we had a really good weekend,” Coach Peters commented following the tournament. “We had good contributions from a number of athletes this weekend. Josh Doerksen played very well in a libero role as we were without Ryan Hamm for the competition. Delmer Krahn was one of the top offensive players in the tourney, and we got solid contributions all weekend long from Dallen Klassen and Paul Warkentin, among others.”
The Freemen now head back to the gym to prepare for their NIVC regional tournament held March 20th & 21st, where Providence hopes to get their second consecutive conference title and 7th in the last 11 years. The tournament is held at North Dakota State University in Fargo and will feature a strong field, including three teams ranked in the nation’s top 12.
Notes: Krahn (48 kills, 8 stuff blocks, 6 digs), Hildebrand (37 kills, 2 stuff blocks, 6 aces), Klassen (25 kills, 8 digs) and Warkentin (5 aces, 135 assists) led the team statistically throughout the tourney…sophomore Ryan Hamm missed the competition for personal reasons, and will be able to compete in the NIVC regional tournament.
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