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Emily Van Der Meer named Week 17 Athlete of the Week

After winning the Women’s Volleyball MCAC Championship three out of the last four years, and holding the best record in the league once again this season, it’s clear there is a lot of talent coming out of Providence University College. Emily Van Der Meer is an example of that talent.

In her third year at Providence, Van Der Meer has proven to be a solid presence down the middle for a consistently solid Pilots team. In Week 17, Van Der Meer recorded 10 kills, five blocks, and three aces to defeat both the Rebels and Saint-Boniface in straight sets.

As her role on the team increases and the Pilots continue to roll this season, a constant presence like Van Der Meer’s is something that their coaches have been able to count on from the get-go.

“Emily has been a key part of our team all season,” says assistant coach Kyle Guenther.  “She has a very big block, can shut down our opponents big threats in the middle consistently, and she has been on fire offensively as well. You can see her growing more confident as the season progresses, and she has been connecting really well with our setter in the last few weeks. It has been a lot of fun working with Emily over the past three seasons, and even more exciting to watch the player she has become.”

After being handed their first defeat in the beginning of Week 18, the Pilots have five matches remaining as they strive to lock up the number-one seed going into the Final Fours at the end of the month. Many expect the Pilots to be the favourites going in, and if they’re going to succeed in taking home their fourth title in five years, they’re going to need help from Emily Van Der Meer to do it.

John Hayter named Week 17 Athlete of the Week

It takes a full team to win a basketball game, but every once in a while we see an individual performance that becomes the breaking point between a win and a loss. In Week 17, that performance came from Canadian Mennonite University’s Jon Hayter.

In a critical late-season matchup against the College Wesmen, Hayter dropped 35 points on 11/22 shooting to push the Blazers ahead for an 88-76 victory. Hayter, who also had six rebounds, five assists, and five steals, was dominant offensively, tying the largest single-game point total in the MCAC this season. When it comes to the rookie’s success, his coach points to a work ethic that has Hayter trending upwards.

“Jon has played all year with a very high motor,” says head coach Billy Isaac. “He has competed extremely hard every day in practice, and that hard work has begun to pay off during games.”

Hayter sits second in the league in points with 14.8 per game, and is fourth in blocks, fourth in average minutes, and eighth in the MCAC in assists.

The momentum Hayter’s game is carrying couldn’t have come at a more crucial time for the Blazers, who are just two wins out of the third-seed with three games left to play. At this point of the season, every game is a must win for CMU, and if they want to move themselves out of fourth place, they’re going to need everything that Hayter – and the whole lineup – has to offer.

Kaitlyn Doherty named Week 16 Athlete of the Week

With the MCAC Final Fours taking place on their home court, the Assiniboine Community College Cougars women’s volleyball team is not lacking any motivation to qualify in 2015. And with four weeks left in regular season play, they are on pace to do just that.

Leading the charge for the Cougars is stand-out rookie Kaitlyn Doherty, who was huge for her team in Week 16 in their victory against the Red River Rebels.

After being unavailable for the first game of Saturday’s double-header, it was Doherty who helped her team bounce back after a game one loss to win a five-set thriller against the Rebels. In the match, Doherty had an impressive 17 kills and 19 digs, pushing the Cougars even closer to their goal of the Final Fours.

“Kaitlyn’s three straight kills to cap off the match were huge,” says head coach Bryce Wilson regarding Doherty’s clutch play last week. “She will be a big force in our success in the second half of the season.”

Week 17 lines up to be an important one for the Cougars who play the 1-13 Blazers in a double-header on Saturday. If they’re able to pick up wins, they’ll be in position to not only end up in the Final Fours, but also fight for the third seed. One thing is a given: with Doherty on the court, there aren’t a lot of games they can’t win.

Erik Redekopp named Week 16 Athlete of the Week

It was almost a year ago when the Red River Rebels lost their last volleyball game in the MCAC. After a crushing fifth-set defeat in last year’s Championship final, the Red River Rebels couldn’t have bounced back any better in the 2014-2015 season with an undefeated record of 12-0. Despite the talent being carried over from last year’s team, it is a first-year player who the Rebels have been relying on as of late – and that player is Erik Redekopp. 

After cruising through Week 16 with a 3-0 record, the first-year setter finished with 18 kills and 64 total assists, along with a dominant defensive game against CMU which saw him pick up 20 digs in the five-set victory. He may be new to the team, but co-head coach Dylan Power sees Redekopp in a prominent role of leadership on the Rebels. 

“Erik’s a leader on and off the court, and is certainly a major part in our team’s identity and personality,” says Power. Redekopp’s role in the Rebel’s offense has changed throughout the season, starting the year off a right-side hitter, and eventually transitioning into the role of setter, something Power has seen his rookie shape into nicely. “He has met this challenge head-on, and is playing great, allowing our team’s success to continue.”

Although the Rebels have cruised to their undefeated record so far, they will be in tough this weekend against a Pilots team who has yet to lose in 2015. It should be a great game to watch, and you can bet that if the Rebels are to keep up this pace, Erik Redekopp will be a big part of it. 

Matt Friesen named Week 15 Athlete of the Week

Whether “peaking at the right time” is anything more than a tired sports cliché remains to be seen, but after knocking down two straight-set matches to start the new year, the Providence Pilots Men’s Volleyball team may be doing just that.

After struggling out the gate, the Pilots not only find themselves above .500, but they’ve found themselves quite the player in freshman Matt Friesen.

With 20 kills in their 3-0 victory against CMU, Friesen had more than double the amount of kills of anyone else on the court, along with sharing a match-high in digs. His strength not only at the net, but on defense as well is something that is not lost on head coach Jason Peters.

“Matt has had a tremendous season for us,” says Peters. “He has been as impactful as any freshman has been for us in recent memory. He’s our top offensive option, and is as good in the back row as the front.”

That’s high praise from Peters, who after 12th years of coaching at Providence has seen his fair share of talent in front of him.

Friesen and the Pilots have taken their strong play into Week 16 as well, with another dominating victory. As they take the weekend off, the Pilots still have seven games left in the regular season, and after defeating a second-place Blazers squad in Week 15, the number two seed is well within striking distance. Regardless of where they end up, it’s safe to think that Matt Friesen will be a big part of whatever success they come by down the road.

Cassie Wiebe named Week 15 Athlete of the Week

Women’s basketball in the MCAC is more competitive than ever in the 2014-2015 season, and the Week 15 battle between Red River College and Canadian Mennonite University represented that fact perfectly. 

After a hard-fought four quarters, the teams went into overtime, where the Blazers took down the first-place Rebels 72-71 in what was the highest scoring MCAC women’s game in the last two years. To edge out the three-time champions like that, a team really needs a leader to help players dig deep – and that is exactly what the Blazers have in Cassie Wiebe.

Wiebe, a second year guard for CMU, has taken over leadership of the team with the young squad that surrounds her, and that has translated both on and off the court.

Against the Rebels, Wiebe dropped a team high 18 points, to go along with five assists, four steals, and 41:13 of playing time. Wiebe, who is normally known for distributing and defense, saw her team’s need for her to score, and that extra effort, in many ways, might have been the difference on Saturday night.

Her ability to see a need and meet it for her team is something that is evident both in the game, and on the practice court. Her hard work is evident to all those in the Blazers program, including her head coach.

“Cassie is a pleasure to coach,” says head coach Joe DiCurzio. “She’s worked very hard to improve her game this season, and it shows out on the court as she's really led by example this season.”

If the Final Fours started today, the Blazers would be facing off against the Providence Pilots in the semifinals – the same opponents they face on Saturday. These teams have played very tight this season, and if CMU wants to take that edge off the Pilots, they might just want to look to Cassie Wiebe to be the difference.

Lloyd Hildebrand named Week 13/14 Athlete of the Week

Consistency has been key for the six-time defending MCAC Champion Red River Rebels basketball team, and with yet another perfect start to the MCAC season, this year is no exception.

For a program to win the top prize six years running, solid recruiting needs to be aligned with a veteran presence, and that veteran presence is exactly what they have in third-year centre Lloyd Hildebrand.

In their Week 13 wins, Hildebrand was a huge inside presence for Red River, recording 10 points, seven rebounds and four steals in a blowout win against CMU, and then a solid 18 points in their four point victory against the second-place Providence Pilots.

These stats are to be expected with Hildebrand at this point, who leads the league in steals, ranks third in points and field goals, and is also top ten in offensive rebounds, blocks, and productivity.

Head coach Sukhvir Singh describes Hildebrand as a “menace” on both sides of the floor, which is a pretty accurate description as his energy and ability to get involved in some way in every play.

Despite their 7-0 start, the Rebels will still have their hands full for the rest of the season, as the conference is experiencing more parity than it has in years. The road to a potential seventh straight title looks harder than ever, but with players like Lloyd Hildebrand leading the charge, every team in the league is going to have a hard time dealing with the Red River Rebels.