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Silver Lining For CMU In Semi-Final Loss

IMG_5277It was a bitter-sweet Friday for the CMU women’s volleyball team last weekend as the fourth-seed Blazers bowed out in straight-sets (25-15, 25-18, 25-22) to the top-seed and eventual 2013 Champions from Providence University College. The loss was a difficult one to take as for the past three seasons the Blazers championship hopes were dashed with a loss to the Lady Freemen, in the Championship Final in 2011 and 2012 and this year in the semis.

For three Blazers, outside-hitters Kelsey Dick, Maxine Delaney and middle-blocker Breanne Giesbrecht, the match marked what is likely their final sets in MCAC volleyball. All three starters will graduate from CMU in April and have been invaluable contributors during their collegiate volleyball careers.

A vivid highlight of the semi-final loss was the return to the starting rotation and front-row duty for second-year left side Clare Schellenberg. The 6’2 product of Rockway Mennonite Collegiate in Kitchener, has been sidelined with several knee injuries since the mid-way point of her rookie season in 2010. Schellenberg suffered a season-ending ACL tear while playing at the Adidas Cup in Oshawa for the Blazers that kept her out of volleyball action until September 2011.

IMG_5245In her first game back on the court to open the 2011 season,  Schellenberg suffered a second ACL injury, this to her opposite knee – a fate unimaginable for any athlete. Surgery and more rehabilitation followed with focus shifting to a return in September 2012.

As her return to the CMU lineup neared last September, while landing after an attack at the net during a early season practice session, Schellenberg again collapsed to the floor and it appeared that this would mark her final effort to return to the form that made her the Western Canadian College Tournament MVP and an MCAC All-Conference player in 2011. The injury was a torn-meniscus, a less severe injury that required slightly less time for rehabilitation, but a significant knee injury nevertheless. The resilient Schellenberg battled on.

Schellenberg returned to the rotation in serving and back-row duty in late January and this semi-final marked her first venture back into the starting rotation and front-row attacking. Though noticeably cautious and perhaps not at full match-fitness, Schellenberg was back! She led her team in attacking, received the lion-share of sets and was selected as CMU’s Player of the Game by the MCAC.

The Lady Freemen went on to defeat the host Red River Rebels in Saturday afternoon’s women’s final 3:1 to claim their third-consecutive MCAC Championship. But from a Blazers perspective, the return of Clare Schellenberg to the CMU rotation capped the season and embodied the definition of perseverance, dedication and commitment.

Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference Northern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association