Freemen go two-for-two against Red River
The Freemen men’s volleyball squad knew they would have their hands full this past weekend as they faced a Red River Rebels squad that owned only 1 loss in the past 3 years against Manitoba competition. But Providence was up to the task, as they tripled that number in only one weekend and in a convincing fashion by winning both games in 3 sets; Friday night’s (26-24, 27-25, 25-23) and Saturday afternoon’s (25-22, 25-23, 25-19).
“We definitely came in as the underdogs and we had something to prove,” Freemen head coach Jason Peters said of the weekend’s games. “I have been really proud of our guys and the maturity and work ethic they have shown this semester, and that effort showed on Friday.”
Sophomore Delmer Krahn led the squad offensively with an amazing 18 kills and 2 aces, while Ryan Hamm (6 digs) and Steve Schapansky (4 stuff blocks) put in strong showings on the defensive end.
Friday’s game was played in Winnipeg. While the Rebels were able to end every set within two of the Freemen, it was always the boys in blue finding the clutch plays when it counted, and they were able to fight their way to a well-deserved 3-set sweep.
Providence then hosted the re-match between the two sides on Saturday afternoon in front of yet another packed gym. While the Rebels came out ready to avenge their loss, the Freemen came out equally prepared to show their efforts weren’t merely a fluke.
Both sides took turns with the lead early on, but sophomore Kevin Hildebrand (14 kills, 3 digs) changed the momentum with the sides tied at 15 apiece, as he fired out 5 consecutive services, including an ace, to put Providence up 20-15. The Rebels then started a late rally, but the Freemen held them off to take the set 25-23.
Providence then jumped out to an early 5-0 lead in the second set behind 4 consecutive serves from Krahn (12 kills, 3 stuff blocks). The Rebels once again began to creep back into the game, and came within 3 at 17-14. Krahn then pulled out back-to-back big plays to change the momentum back into Providence’s favor, as he killed a put-back spike near court and then stuffed a Rebels spike attempt. The Freemen continued to roll from that, and sophomore Dallen Klassen (7 kills, 3 digs, 1 ace) finished the set off with a huge stuff block.
In the third set, Providence took an early lead once again. However, the biggest play of the match came at the Freemen’s 13th point, when sophomore Kevin Hildebrand (14 kills, 3 digs) rifled a spike off a helpless defender’s head and into the roof, subsequently dropping the Rebels player to the ground while raising the crowd to its feet.
The Rebels came within two on the back of their surprisingly effective tip game, but sophomore Josh Friesen had back-to-back blocks to help keep the Freemen in the lead. Klassen then added his second set-finisher of the afternoon by sending a rocket into the backcourt to clinch the 25-22 set and 3-0 match wins.
Coach Peters left the weekend extremely happy with the performance that all of his players put in.
“Our guys are quickly showing that they won’t back down from a fight,” Peters said of his squad following the weekend’s matches. “As a team, we still felt that we had to earn respect and prove our win the night before was not a fluke. For the second day in a row it was truly a team effort.”
As the games also marked the end to the Freemen’s first half of the season, Peters also noted that he is excited about their impressive 8-0 record.
“We are very pleased to end our first half exhibition schedule at 8-0, but realize that we have a long ways to go. We have a long road until our Conference and National Championships, and we will step up our efforts and work even harder when we return after Christmas.”
Written by: Kaiten Critchlow
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