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3 in a row
Providence University College Women's Volleyball has captured the Manitoba Colleges Athletics Conference Championship.
After finishing the regular season on top of the conference with a record of 12 wins and 4 losses, the Providence team had the target on their backs as the team to beat in the playoffs. Friday had Providence play their conference rivals, CMU Blazers in the first semifinal. These two teams had met in the previous two championship finals, with Providence coming out on top both years. CMU wanted nothing more than to upset the top seed and also get some revenge for their heartbreaking losses from the years past. The ladies from Otterburne came out firing on all cylinders however, with CMU not having much of an answer for them. With a balanced attack and great defense, Providence took the first set in convincing fashion. The second saw regular season MVP, Lauren Toews continue her dominance with her jump serve and strong offensive attack. Grabbing a quick two set lead, Providence looked confident and poised to close this one out quickly. CMU made things a little bit uncomfortable with some heavy hitting of their own while keeping the third set very close. A key block by senior Heidi Martens was the spark the Lady Freemen needed to end this match in three sets. With a final score of 25-15, 25-18, and 25-22, Providence was heading back into the Championship match against the host team, Red River Rebels.
Heidi Martens and Lauren Toews led the way with 10 kills each while Libero, Katelyn Corbin had an astounding 17 digs.
The Championship final was a highly anticipated match up between the number one seed Providence and the number three seeded Red River Rebels who had won their last 8 out 9 matches including their last meeting with Providence. With the confidence of their late season success and competing in front of their home crowd, Red River came out hot in the final. A late set rally by Providence wasn't enough to come back as The Rebels took the first set. In the second set, it was a back and forth battle until midway through the set, some equipment malfunctions caused a 5 minute delay. The teams went to their respective benches with the set tied at 14-14. This break ended up being the “TSN Turning Point” of the match. Providence came out more relaxed after this break and went on an 11 to 2 run to close out the set. The third set saw the defending champions in control and escaped a late set rally to take a two sets to one lead over third seed. The fourth set couldn't have been written any better for Providence. Two big serving runs from Kate Osadchuk (Brandon, MB), and Clarice Martens (Boissevain, MB), had the top seed in position to close this one out in a hurry. As the crowd rose to their feet on match point, Heidi Martens, playing in her final game of her illustrious four year career, ended the match with a huge kill off the blockers hands. Providence wins 23-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-13.
Lauren Toews again led the Providence offense with 14 kills and 3 aces while Chelsea Needham wasn’t far behind with 12 kills and 10 digs. Kate Osadchuk pitched in with 8 kills and 4 service aces.
This is the third straight MCAC championship for the women's volleyball program from Providence.
“It is an unbelievable feeling to win this title three years in a row,” Assistant Coach Kyle Guenther explains. “We have worked so hard over the last six months to get to this point. After Heidi put away that last ball on match point, it all feels worth it now. Our girls showed incredible character after losing that first set. We started off a little nervous and Red River played really well in that set. The girls were able to shake off the nerves and play their game. Once they settled in, it was fun to watch.”
Chelsea Needham, a Junior from Winnipeg, was awarded tournament MVP after the match. Chelsea accumulated 20 kills, 16 digs, 2 aces and 3 blocks over the weekend to earn this award.
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Otterburne, Manitoba, Canada, R0A 1G0
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