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Adam Bergen named Week 11 Athlete of the Week

It was last February when Canadian Mennonite University knocked off the top-seeded College Wesmen to earn a spot into the MCAC Men’s Basketball Finals. Although they were unable to act out that result in their first meeting earlier this season, third-year forward Adam Bergen and his Blazers did a little bit of reminiscing in Week 11, defeating the U of W by three for their first win of the young MCAC season.

Bergen was dominant in the game, finishing with a monster line of 18 points, 14 rebounds, five blocks, four assists, and two steals. Making the win – and Bergen’s game – even more impressive, was that CMU was down 11 points with less than three minutes left, but fought their way back for the victory.

Although it took a lot more than Bergen’s presence on the box score to secure the comeback win, something head coach Billy Isaac is quick to mention when talking about Bergen’s role on the team.

“Adam is the leader of our team in every sense,” says Isaac. “Every practice or game you know that Adam will bring 100 percent, which automatically raises the level of play of his teammates.”

With that said, take one look at the season statistics and you’ll see Bergen’s name all over it. Bergen leads the league in defensive and total rebounds, while at the same time placing in the top ten in points, steals, and blocks.

Bergen is proving to be a real threat in the conference, and if he’s able to keep up at this pace, the Blazers are going to be a real threat come playoff time in this parity-filled MCAC season.

Riese McArthur named Week 11 Athlete of the Week

After picking up their first two wins in the last two seasons last week, the Assiniboine Community College women’s volleyball team wasn’t satisfied simply getting the monkey of their backs. With two more wins in Week 11, the Cougars showed that they’re not happy just being at .500 – and Riese McArthur was a big part of that message.

With a total of 22 kills and three aces on the weekend, McArthur was a force offensively, helping ACC defeat CMU in both matches of their weekend series. McArthur’s skills go beyond just at the net, something head coach Bryce Wilson has taken notice of.

“Riese has been a good addition in the middle for our squad this year,” says Wilson. “She has a solid all-around game, can terminate the ball, block, and is a great server. She’s going to be a big part of our future success.”

Wilson also points out McArthur’s coachability, and openness to improve her game as factors in her success. With that being the case, McArthur has a high ceiling that the Cougars are hoping she’ll be able to live up to in an MCAC season that is going in the right direction for ACC.

With their Week 11 wins, McArthur and her squad now own a 4-2 record, good for third place in the conference. Coming up this weekend is a huge matchup on the road, as ACC takes on Saint-Boniface in an opportunity to separate themselves from the team that’s hot on their tail.

This weekend could prove to be one of the Cougars most important matchups of the season – and if they want to really make a dent in this league, Riese McArthur is sure to be a big part of it.

Stephanie Willey named Week 10 Athlete of the Week

It was a big week for the Assiniboine Community College women’s volleyball team. After being held winless last year, they went out to prove early on that this is a brand new start for the Cougars, going 2-0 in Week 10, and recording their first two victories in two seasons. With last season officially behind them, this team is focused on moving forward – and co-captain Stephanie Willey is leading the charge. 
In the Cougars victories against Red River, Willey had 10 kills and 4 aces in game one, and 9 kills in game two to go along with some exceptional passing. Despite her power and technical skills on the court, head coach Bryce Wilson points to her leadership and attitude as the real driving force behind her success. 
“Steph has contributed on and off the court thus far this season,” says Wilson. “She has a great all-round game, and at the same time has been a big help to the new athletes adjusting to the college workload and life. Steph works hard in training, and the improvement in her game has shown that.”
Winning back-to-back this early in the season not only boosts the Cougars confidence from the get-go, but it also bring them to a .500 record which slots them in the top four in the conference. 
Another real test comes quickly for ACC, as Week 10 will see them take on the 0-4 Blazers in a two-match series at home. It’s still early, but in the long run this weekend has the potential to cause a significant swing forward for the Cougars, who will be looking for leaders like Stephanie Willey to step up and make this a true winning streak. 

Joel Kliewer named Week 10 Athlete of the Week

In sports, great teams almost always have great leaders – and in the case of the CMU Blazers, they’ve found one in captain Joel Kliewer.

Week 10 was a huge building block for the rising Blazers, who didn't lose a set in their two victories last week. The wins not only brought a boost of confidence for these potential contenders, but it also saw the emergence of their captain,who really looks to be taking his leadership role in stride.

Kliewer was dominant in Week 10, putting down 18 kills with a 54% kill efficiency, and adding 13 aces to CMU’s perfect two victories. Kliewer played like the best player on the court on both sides of the net, and really led by example on the young Blazers team.

“Joel is a tremendous captain and leader,” says first-year head coach Don Dulder. “He leads by example both on and of the court, and has a very advanced understanding of the game.”

Dulder also cites Kliewer’s coachable nature as one of the key aspects of his success, and if that’s the case, Kliewer may just be getting started.

Despite a loss in their first game of the season, the Blazers have the potential to be a real threat this MCAC season, especially if Week 10 was any indication of what they're capable of. With three matches in Week 11, the CMU has an opportunity to make a big jump in the standings, and will be relying on the consistency of players like Kliewer to keep them on the right path. 

Amber Harms named Week 9 Athlete of the Week

With some strong freshmen, and key-returning players from last season, many expected the Providence Pilots women’s basketball team to improve this season. However, after starting the season 3-0, and handing the three-time defending champions their first loss since January 2013, the Pilots aren’t looking to improve – they’re looking to contend.

The Pilots biggest strength is in their team play, but after her first week of action in the MCAC, freshman Amber Harms is showing some upside that is hard to ignore.

After victories against the College Wesmen, CMU, and Red River College, Harms is all over the league-wide statistics, placing in the top three in field goals, defensive rebounds, total rebounds, and scoring. With over 8 rebounds, and 11 points per game, the freshmen Harms certainly isn’t timid in the paint, but it’s her dedication to team-basketball that has head coach Joel Coursey impressed.

“Amber is a great athlete, and fits well into our systems,” says Coursey. “She’s a great teammate, well-liked by her peers, and contributes each game to the success of our team.”

With their 3-0 start to the season, the Pilots sit atop the MCAC standings. After playing three games in one week, the schedule is a bit kinder to Providence in Week 10, as they play only once - against their rivals out of CMU. If last week’s overtime battle was any indication, they’re still going to need all the energy they can get. The Pilots will once again be relying on their team play, but with some help from an impressive freshman, to keep them on top of the mountain.

Ian Favreau named Week 9 Athlete of the Week

After finishing last season two points away from a championship, the Red River Rebels men’s volleyball team is out to prove a point. And after a 3-0 start to the season, including two victories in Week 9, a new star is emerging on a Rebels team looking to make it over the hump. 

Freshman Ian Favreau was a key part of Red River’s strong start to the season, contributing on all parts of the floor, and helping shape their team into the contender the league expects them to be this season. For coach Erik Hansen, Favreau represents consistency for the Rebels, something that has reigned true in their perfect start to the year. 
"Ian has been a great addition to the team this year,” says Hansen. “He’s a consistent and reliable performer with experience at the College level. He’ll be a layer the team counts on throughout the year especially during tight matches."

One of those tight matches was against the young Providence Pilots, where it was Favreau’s reliability that was a key factor in their five-set victory. Consistency will be key once again for the Rebels this weekend, as they play three matches in two days against Assiniboine Community College, and Saint-Boniface. 

Ousmane El Bachir Niang named Week 7/8 Athlete of the Week

The Université de Saint-Boniface Les Rouges owned the 2014 MCAC Soccer Season. With their dazzling footwork, impressive goal-scoring ability, and superior vision of the field, not only did they win the MCAC Championship, but they did it without losing a game.

While their offense gained the headlines, their defense has flown under the radar as the most effective in the entire league. During last weekend’s Final Four’s, Saint-Boniface put on a defensive clinic, only letting in two goals throughout the tournament. Leading the charge was Ousmane El Bachir Niang – this week’s Athlete of the Week.

If you look at the score-sheets throughout the season, you won’t see El Bachir Niang’s name very often. After only playing in four games this season due to injury, Saint-Boniface wasn’t even sure if he’d play in the Final Fours. But after hard work and certainly some guts, El Bachir Niang played in both playoff games – and the Les Rouges are sure glad he did.

“Ousmane played a dominant and key role for the us this weekend,” said head coach Justin Legare. “He was not only dominating, but a great leader for the back line on defense, challenging all players and all balls directed in his vicinity”

Not only was he solid defensively, but he contributed on the scoreboard as well, picking up the key first goal against CMU in the semifinals, utilizing his head ball skills, which Legare consider one of the biggest strengths in his game.

On a team with as much talent as Saint-Boniface, it takes players with leadership to step up in the big moments and carry their team on and off the pitch. That was El Bachir Niang this weekend, and that is why he is the Week 7/8 Athlete of the Week.