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Rebels repeat in the MCAC

OTTERBURNE – March 8, 2014 – With another MCAC basketball season in the books, it is once again the Red River Rebels who come out on top as MCAC Champions.

For the women, this makes three titles in a row as they dominated Providence in the finals 69-29. When it came to the men, the game was a lot closer, but the dynasty is even more impressive as they complete their sixth consecutive season as MCAC Champions, defeating CMU 78-76.

It was almost a true Cinderella story for Canadian Mennonite University in the men’s game, as Ryan Kehler sent a desperate three pointer into the air seconds before the buzzer sounded to end the contest. But it wasn’t to be on this night, as it sailed heavy, putting an end to the fourth-seed’s incredible run at an MCAC Championship, and putting an end to one incredible basketball game.

For Red River, it was a strong team defense, and some very clutch shooting from Kevin Quirante and Taylor Brown that propelled them to the top in this one. The Blazers were once again led by Ryan Kehler, who provided a spark whenever his team seemed to need one, along with some very impressive three-pointers down the stretch by Player of the Game Ryan Wiebe.

The game started off with Red River dominating down low, led by Cory Neufeld’s ten first-half points, most of which coming in the paint. CMU however, found a way to counter, with some excellent defense late in the second, cutting their deficit from ten to six to end the half.

With the Rebels outplaying CMU in the first half, CMU came out firing in the second, slowly cutting the lead down and getting back into this game. But it wasn’t until the fourth quarter when it really felt like CMU would have a shot.

Tying the game up with seven minutes left in the quarter, CMU started hitting some huge shots in an effort to grab a lead of their own. However, the Rebels showed why they’re the six-time champs, immediately responding time and time again led, in this case with some amazing shooting and speed on the drive by Quirante.

After the two teams traded three-pointers, the Rebels had the lead, but desperately looked to build on it quickly. Answering the bell for Red River was Brown, who hit the shot of the game, nailing a three to make it a two-possession game with less than a minute left.

The Blazers never gave up, and fought back within two after a massive Kehler three. But as CMU threw the ball in with just ten seconds left, the off balance three-pointer couldn’t drop, and the Rebels were once again crowned champions.

On the women’s side, there was certainly no rust on the first-place Red River Rebels after going 14 days without a game in the MCAC. Right from the opening tip it was clear they were ready to play, applying a full-court press that dictated the pace of the game.

The certainly don’t lack offensive talent on their roster, but it was their defense that allowed them to put points on the board, and consequently keep points away from Providence. In the first half it was Brittany Adrian, and Celecia Luckwell who really made things happen for Red River, making up over half of the Rebels first-half points, and doing it mainly off of steals and transition points.

The bright spot for Providence in the first half was the seven points and seven rebounds from Crystal Harms, who found success on both ends of the floor, keeping alive the idea of a comeback in the second half.

The second half, however, was all Red River. Their defense was relentless, holding Providence to only 12 points, while putting up 35 of their own. Again it was Luckwell and Adrian getting it done defensively, while Selamawit Andu found her finish putting up 14 second-half points.

In the end, Providence couldn’t find an answer for the pressure Red River was putting on, and it resulted in a big win to earn their third-straight title, and setting the stage for their men’s team to follow suit.

There were a lot of outstanding players involved in these championships, but a couple stood out amongst the rest. For the women, the Final 4’s MVP went to Brittany Adrian, who was dominant in both sides of the ball during their victory. On the men’s side, it was Red River’s Evan Walker, who was a rock for the Rebels in both games, playing consistently solid basketball whenever he was out on the floor.

For photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page.

Two upsets, and a statement: The MCAC Basketball Finals are set

OTTERBURNE, March 7, 2014 – In a day filled with upsets, overtime, and re-established dominance, the MCAC Championship matches have been set in stone as the MCAC Basketball season will come to a close tomorrow evening.

On the men’s side, it will be Canadian Mennonite University, who pulled the upset of the season defeating the College Wesmen in overtime, taking on the five-time defending champions, Red River College. Red River already clinched a spot to play for the Championship, but we now know they will be joined by Providence University College who pulled off an upset of their own defeating CMU.

For basketball fans, the tournament couldn’t have started off any better, as the fourth-seeded Canadian Mennonite University Blazers defeated the number-one seeded College Wesmen 97-92 in an overtime thriller.

In what was perhaps the most exciting basketball game of the MCAC season, CMU certainly didn’t look like the underdogs that they were, playing with a confidence that showed everyone that they certainly didn’t consider themselves a four-seed.

For the Blazers it was Ryan Kehler who was the difference, scoring a game-high 32 points, in over 42 minutes of court-time. Supporting Kehler’s offensive onslaught was a CMU defense that forced the College Wesmen to shoot from the outside, a huge reason they were able to come up with the win.

The pace was tremendous from the get-go. The Blazers came out to prove themselves against the top-seeded College Wesmen, and did just that. After taking a quick 11-5 lead to start the first, CMU never surrendered the lead in the first half, led by a 15-point first-half performance from Kehler.

The Wesmen however, know how to score – and despite some solid defensive stops from CMU, they stayed in the game, with Player of the Game Given Isaac playing a consistent part in their offense.

The second half was wilder than the first, as the two teams traded blows throughout, but with CMU continuing to hold the lead. At one point, the Blazers pulled ahead by ten, but the College Wesmen proved why they’re ranked number-one pulling a terrific comeback with a few huge Denzel Green threes, and Isaac continuing to find ways to the basket.

At the end of the fourth, each team dug deep and converted offensively, forcing the game to overtime after a pair of made Green free throws to tie it up. Overtime however, was all Blazers, as they held Winnipeg to just seven points, with Kehler once again carrying his team down the stretch for the 97-92 victory.

As the buzzer went, the CMU-packed crowd became unhinged; creating a truly special moment for a team who nobody thought could pull this victory off, creating far and away the highlight of the evening.

In the night’s lone women’s matchup, Providence wanted to make it a night of underdogs, defeating Canadian Mennonite University 62-52 to move on to the finals.

For Providence, it was their guards who led the charge offensively, with Breanne Nichol, Genadyn Charr, and Player of the Game Elena Rempel all reaching double digits in scoring.

The first quarter was the most competitive, with both teams locking in on defense, resulting in a 13-10 lead for Providence going into the second. From there, Providence blew the game open a bit with some tough threes by Nichol, who finished the half with 10 points, and the game high 19.

This game was a defensive showcase, so the seven-point lead Providence held at half time would prove to be difficult to overcome. Despite putting on a few runs, led by Player of the Game Cassie Wiebe, Providence always found a way to shut them down on the perimeter, and completed the upset with some key buckets down the stretch.

In the final men’s match of the evening, the Rebels proved to be too much for a Providence team that has had their moments this year, but weren’t able to put it all together in their final game of the season.

Leading the charge for Red River was Vince Munoz who was all over the scoresheet offensively and defensively, and Kevin Quirante, who went 5/7 from the three-point line to finish the game with a game high 17 points.

In this defensive matchup, Providence kept up with the defending champs early on, finishing the first quarter tied up at 14. But Red River has been here before, and began to really pull away after half time.

While shutting down Providence with their defense, Quirante caught fire, jacking up three after three, despite a Pilots defense that was playing him very tight. Once the Rebels caught a ten-point lead in the third quarter, things looked bleak for Providence, as they simply were unable to get a run going to get themselves back in the game.

The atmosphere in the crowd was electric, and it’s certainly not a far stretch that we’ll see something like that again tomorrow night. The women’s final will be played at 6 p.m. at Providence University College, followed by the men’s Championship at 8 p.m. Admission is $5.00, with students from MCAC member schools getting in for free with valid student I.D.

For photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page.

MCAC Basketball Final 4's Preview

For years now, the Red River Rebels have held a stronghold in MCAC basketball. The women’s team has won two straight titles, and the men have dominated, winning the last five. But as great teams emerge, so does the bullseye on their backs, and this year in the MCAC, there are five teams itching to knock the champions off their thrones.

They’ll have their chance soon enough, as the MCAC Basketball Final 4’s are taking place this weekend at Providence University College, with the semi-finals being played on Friday, March 7, and the finals set for Saturday, March 8.

On the men’s side, we have the tightest competition in the tournament; with two teams separated by an end-of-season tiebreaker, and another two who have proven throughout the year they can hang with anyone in the league.

The first matchup sees the top-seeded College Wesmen taking on Canadian Mennonite University. The University of Winnipeg have swept the season series against the Blazers, and have looked like the most dominant team in the league. CMU however, came within two baskets of the College Wesmen earlier in the year, and will be looking to tap into that performance to pull off an upset in this one-and-done tournament.

In Friday night’s main event, the champs at Red River College take on a Providence team that just recently took them to overtime, and who will likely have a large crowd on hand to cheer them on. The home atmosphere will be a massive boost for the Pilots, however the Rebels simply know how to win, and will be quite the mountain to climb for the Pilots despite the late-season charge they’ve been on as of late.

On the women’s side, the classic rivalry between Providence and CMU will be reignited for a chance to play Red River in the finals. CMU has owned the matchup this season, that is, up until the final week of the season where Providence finally put everything together to defeat them in double digits. On paper, this should be quite the matchup, and with the raucous crowd that is likely to be on hand, it will be an entertaining game to watch no matter which way you look at it.

Below is the schedule for the Basketball Final 4’s. Single-day passes are $5.00 and can be purchased upon entry, and member school students with valid student ID get in for free.

Friday, March 7, 2014

4:00 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #1     #1 UW College vs. #4 CMU
6:00 p.m. Women’s Semifinal     #2 CMU vs. #3 Providence
8:00 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2     #2 Red River vs. #3 Providence

Saturday, March 8, 2014

6:00 p.m. Women’s Championship Final
8:00 p.m. Men’s Championship Final

Before each Friday match, the MCAC will hand out its All-Conference Team selections and regular season MVP awards to those athletes participating.

Wesmen are on top in the MCAC

When it comes to MCAC Volleyball, the University of Winnipeg College Wesmen sit above the rest, as both the men and women’s Wesmen teams can now call themselves MCAC Volleyball Champions.

Up against two MCAC dynasties, the College Wesmen put an end to the three-year reign of the Providence women’s team, and prevented the Red River College men from winning six championships in seven years, to start a reign of their own as the two best volleyball teams in the MCAC. In front of a packed crowd at Canadian Mennonite University, the College Wesmen made a statement, putting on two incredible championship matches on Saturday, in what will go down as one of the most exciting championships in recent memory.

The women of the College Wesmen played a tight match against Providence, beating them in four hotly contested sets (25-22. 25-21, 17-25, 25-22). On the men’s side, the College Wesmen avenged last season’s five-set loss against Red River in the championships, defeating the Rebels in a five-set thriller of their own (25-17, 25-21, 20-25, 22-25, 16-14).

The men’s match certainly didn’t feel like it was going to be as exciting as it was after the first set. The College Wesmen controlled the play for most of it, with the set never really being in doubt.

The second ended up being a bit of different story, with Red River mounting an offense orchestrated by setter Bobby Neufeld, clearly picking up the pace from the first set. However, set number two also saw the emergence of regular season MVP Nathaniel Therrien, who started rolling with some big kills at key times to help his team get up to a two-set lead.

Red River College found their stride in the third, led by a charge from Player of the Game Kevin Bommersbach, who put his team on his back with a high-energy offense that the College Wesmen couldn’t contain. The Rebels continued rolling into the fourth, with some supplementary offense from the likes of Zac Duncan and Mitch Henry to go along with another dominant set from Bommersbach, and things began to look grim for a College Wesmen team who seemed to have things under control early on.

However, in the championship set, the College Wesmen showed what they were made of, coming back from a five point deficit in the fifth, led by an incredible late set charge from team veteran Stefan Dirks. Despite another very strong set from Red River, this was simply the College Wesmen’s night as they took the fifth in extra points, 16-14 to take home the MCAC Championship.

In the women’s final, it was clear that these were the two best teams the MCAC has to offer, and the product was a great volleyball game. With these two teams tied for first place at the end of the MCAC season, this matchup was as even as it gets on paper, but it was the College Wesmen’s drive to dethrone the champs that put them over the top in this championship final.

The first set was a battle, with both teams trading blows throughout, keeping the game close and the tensions high. For Providence, it was Player of the Game, Kate Osadchuk, who held a lot of weight for her team, providing hustle on defense, and making her way through the block for a few timely kills. But that was countered by Chloe Pommer who played a very clutch game, shifting momentum with some kills of her own.

In the second, we saw more of a dominant performance from the College Wesmen, as they held the lead for most of the set, led by a strong performance by Player of the Game, Amanda Armour. That dominance however, did not carry into the third, as Providence started to pour it on and show why they finished the season in first place.

The third set saw the Pilots start a well-rounded attack, with the whole starting line-up starting to click offensively. The tables definitely turned in this set, with Providence dominating 25-17, and it looked like we had a five set match on the horizon.

However, the College Wesmen came out in the fourth as determined as ever, led by some key serving from Devon Guenther, and some excellent hitting from Mackenzie Jeffrey. In this set, the College Wesmen showed the packed crowd why they deserved to be champions, and put on a performance they won’t soon forget, winning the set, the match, and the MCAC Championship.

There were a lot of outstanding players involved in these championships, but a couple stood out amongst the rest. For the women, the Final 4’s MVP went to Mackenzie Jeffrey, who was dominant at the net for the College Wesmen. On the men’s side, the regular season MVP Nathaniel Therrien continued with his strong play, and earned the award after an incredible final match.

For photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page.

Volleyball Championship Match-ups Set

After a day filled with eight hours of volleyball, we’re one step closer to deciding the MCAC Volleyball Champions as Providence and University of Winnipeg move on for the women, and University of Winnipeg and Red River College move on for the men.

In the first semifinal match, the University of Winnipeg College women took on Saint-Boniface in a matchup of a great offense against a solid defense. In this one, offense prevailed, as the College Wesmen took the game in three straight.

Despite the high-powered offense of the Wesmen, Saint-Boniface showed in instances throughout the game that they definitely could keep up. However, after playing up to speed with Winnipeg until the midpoint of every set, the College Wesmen would just put it into that extra gear, and were able to pull away each time.

In what was probably the match of the day, the number-one seed Providence University College defeated the CMU Blazers in four sets. Providence has been a force all season, holding on to the one seed for its entirety. The Blazers however, didn’t let that intimidate them, playing extremely tough against Providence, taking the second set, and losing two of them in extra points. The crowd was thunderous for this one, with Providence and CMU fans battling almost as hard as their players were.

The first men’s semifinal saw the College Wesmen take on the Providence Pilots in a one verses four matchup. Providence defeated the College Wesmen in the first match of the year, however tonight they wouldn’t be able to repeat that performance losing in straight sets.

In this match, the College Wesmen seemed to weather every storm, and played with a consistency that would be very difficult to match. Although Providence put up a fight many times throughout the match, they simply weren’t able to get on a run to match up with the dominant top-seed.

The final match of the night was an absolute thriller, with Red River College prevailing against the crowd favourite CMU Blazers. The match was back-and-fourth the entire time, which each team trading blows until eventually Red River was able to pull ahead in the fifth and final set.

Unfortunately for CMU, Red River’s well-balanced attack proved to be too much for them, despite an exceptional outing by big hitters Shawn Franz, and Jeremy Penner. Regardless of the loss, the home crowd made this a night to remember for the impressive Blazers team.

If the atmosphere in the crowd on Friday was any indication of what it could be like during the championships, then you’re not going to want to miss tomorrow’s action. The Women’s Championship between University of Winnipeg and Providence University College will be played at 2:00 p.m., followed by the Men’s Championship between University of Winnipeg and Red River College at 4:00 p.m. Admission is $5.00.

For photos from the weekend, visit our Facebook page.

MCAC announce Volleyball All-Conference and MVP Selections

As the Volleyball Final 4’s got underway on Friday, the Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference revealed its All-Conference Teams and Most Valuable Players in both men’s and women’s volleyball to fans, players, and coaches at the Canadian Mennonite University.

The selections were based on votes by the member schools’ coaches and are listed below:

Men’s Volleyball

Most Valuable Player – Nathanial Therrien, University of Winnipeg
Erik Wiebe, Providence University College
Josh Doerksen, Providence University College
Shawn Franz, Canadian Mennonite University
Bobby Neufeld, Red River College
Kevin Bommersbach, Red River College
Quentin Raval – Saint-Boniface University

Women’s Volleyball

Most Valuable Player – Chelsea Needham, Providence University College
Clarice Martens, Providence University College
Christa Penner, Providence University College
Lauren Toews, Providence University College
Devon Guenther, University of Winnipeg
Chloe Pommer, University of Winnipeg
Keisha Kaddu, Saint-Boniface University

Volleyball Final 4's Preview

With one team looking for the four-peat, and another seeking their sixth title in seven seasons, there’s been a string of great volleyball teams that have dominated the narrative of the MCAC Championships. But in a year with more parity than ever, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” going into this weekend’s MCAC Volleyball Final 4 tournament.

The MCAC Volleyball Final 4’s will be taking place this weekend at Canadian Mennonite University, with the semi-finals being played on Friday, February 28 and the finals set for Saturday, March 1.

On the women’s side, the reigning three-time MCAC Champions, Providence University College, were able to once again hold onto the number-one seed going into the Final 4’s, and will take on the fourth-seeded Canadian Mennonite University Blazers. The Blazers have been unable to beat Providence this season, but will be looking to their home crowd to give them the boost they’ll need if they want to pull off the upset.

In the 2-3 matchup, the University of Winnipeg College Wesmen have had an excellent season, missing out on the one-seed by a tiebreaker, and beating Providence on two separate occasions. In the semi’s, they will face a scrappy Saint-Boniface team, who has used their defensive tenacity to secure a win against the College Wesmen earlier in the season.

On the men’s side, the College Wesmen easily took the one-seed going into the Final 4’s, and will take on the Providence Pilots. After defeating the College Wesmen in their first match of the season, Providence has struggled to maintain consistency in their first season in the league, and will certainly have their hands full against the pre-tournament favourites.

In the other semi-final action, Red River will look to go six for seven in MCAC Championships as they take on a CMU team that has been up-and-down this season, but have proven to be able to beat any team in the league on any given night.

In this win-or-go-home style tournament, certainly anything is possible. With parity being at an all-time high in the MCAC, this could shape up to be a tournament to remember.

Below is the schedule for the Volleyball Final 4’s. Admission is $5.00 for each day, and member school students with valid student ID get in for free.

Friday, February 28, 2014

2:00 p.m. Women’s Semifinal #1      #3 Saint-Boniface vs. #2 UW College
4:00 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #1            #4 Providence vs. #1 UW College
6:00 p.m. Women’s Semifinal #2      #4 CMU vs. #1 Providence
8:00 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2            #3 CMU vs. #2 Red River College

Saturday, March 1, 2014

2:00 p.m. Women’s Championship Final
4:00 p.m. Men’s Championship Final

Before each Friday match, the MCAC will hand out its All-Conference Team selections and regular season MVP awards to those athletes participating.