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Cruisin’ at Carleton
Klassen celebrating after a big block

2/12 - Providence men’s volleyball squad headed into their first big American tournament of the year this past weekend and left with an impressive record.

The Freemen started the weekend by notching four consecutive victories against St. Olaf University (25-15, 25-19), North Dakota State University (NDSU) (18-25, 25-11, 25-11), the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire B Team (25-10, 25-17) and the host team Carleton College (25-11, 25-3) but finished with a hard-fought loss against Minnesota State University (MSU) Mankato (22-25, 22-25).

The Freemen started off their day with a match against St. Olaf University. St. Olaf kept the match close early on, but the Freemen quickly shook off their road-legs midway through the first set to jump ahead to a 25-15 score. Providence then continued to roll into the second set, and never really gave St. Olaf an opportunity to get back in, taking the set 25-19 to win the match.

Providence then faced off against their nearest conference rivals in NDSU from Fargo, ND. NDSU came out strong early on and were able to win the first set 25-18 behind some strong blocking and aggressive-styled attack. However, Paul Warkentin helped reorganize his squad in the second set with accurate passing play and the Freemen rebounded to take it 25-11. Providence then carried their momentum into the third set winning it 15-11 in their second straight match.

In the next two games, the Freemen played the U of Wisconsin Eau Claire and Carleton College. And while both squads played with heart, neither match was really in question as the Freemen showed they were at a higher level throughout. Providence dominated the first set against Eau Claire 25-10 and handily won the second set 25-17. The Freemen then gave an even more impressive performance against Carleton winning the first set 25-11 and following that by crushing them 25-3 in the match-clinching set.

Up next, Providence battled their toughest opponents yet in the tournament semi-final game against MSU Mankato. Providence and Mankato made it an entertaining match early on; with Delmer Krahn sending out huge cross-court kills, but Mankato was still able to take the set 25-22. The Freemen struggled on the defensive end throughout the first set, and continued it into the second which allowed Mankato to capitalize once again to win the match in two sets with a 25-22 score.

Kevin Hildebrand led the way offensively over the weekend collecting 32 kills, six stuff blocks and nine aces, while Dallen Klassen added 27 kills and 12 digs, and Krahn sent out 19 kills to accompany his seven digs. Ryan Hamm led the way defensively with seven digs, while Warkentin added seven digs of his own along with dishing out 57 assists.
Freemen head coach Jason Peters says his squad showed spurts of great play over the weekend and continues to prove they are a good team, but that they are currently struggling on the defensive side of the ball and haven’t found the playing level they are capable of competing at yet.

“This (loss) didn’t come down to a talent issue,” coach Peters says. “We just didn’t play with the kind of passion and determination that is required to be successful.

“There is a real sense of frustration right now with this group, but also a determination to get better, and get back to playing the kind of ball we are capable of playing.”

“We are going to work harder day in and day out, and we will be better for it.”

The squad will next see action in the University of Iowa Black & Gold Classic tournament.

-Kaiten Critchlow

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