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Instant Classic: Men’s Volleyball Fights Off Elimination To Beat Rouges

With their backs to the wall after three sets, Men's Volleyball exploded with a 25-15 fourth set win and rode an early lead in the fifth all the way to a berth in the 2018 MCAC Championship Final with a 3-2 victory over the #3 USB Rouges.

It was a first set that was completely dominated by CMU. John Nieckarz scored a massive solo stuff block midway through the set to give the Blazers a 14-6 advantage and force a USB timeout. The 6'4 right side hitter would make his biggest impact from the service line on Saturday, where the former River East Kodiak pounded 4 aces over the five-set match. CMU took the first by a lopsided score of 25-16.

The relentless Rouges would turn the semfinal around in the second and third set, harnessing all the momentum in the match after wins of 25-18 and 25-21. Willed on by a bousterous group of travelling supporters, USB overcame a late third set rally from the defending MCAC Champions to take a 2-1 advantage. Down 11-15, CMU gained ground and eventually forced a timeout at 20-20. From that point on, Les Rouges made it near-impossible for the Blazers to put a ball away with a series of blocks and digs in the late stages of the set. At 22-20, 2018 All-Conference outside hitter, Eric Dornez iced the cake for Les Rouges, scoring the final three kills in a 25-21 win.

The fourth set completely belonged to CMU and setter Jason Friesen, who was not willing to have the 2018 MCAC Semifinals be his last match wearing the green and gold. Friesen assisted on one of his two block assists in the match and followed that with an ace from the service line to force a USB timeout at 15-7. Igniting the offense, the fifth-year would rack up 36 assists during the match and add 3 aces and 2 solo blocks to his statline.

Insult was added to injury for Les Rouges, when coming out of the timeout, Nico Marcon-Lajuenesse was issued a red card from the first referee after words were exchanged between the USB captain and the head official. The card resulted in an additional punishment point going to the Blazers: 16-7. The set would end 25-15 after Mackenzie Hildebrand pounded back to back kills for the 24th and 25th points. The second-year power scored 15 kills on 40 attempts during the match, receiving Player of the Game recognition.

With an 8-6 lead at the midway point of the fifth set, the Blazers knew that the only thing they needed to do was go point for point with their opponents to book their place in Sunday's Championship Final. CMU would fight off threats of 8-7, 9-8 and 10-9 and finally find a point-run, taking the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.

In the other Men's semifinal on Saturday afternoon, Providence battled back against the lower-seeded Rebels after the hosts shocked the #1 Pilots with a first set win. The fourth-place Rebels only snuck into the Final Four via tiebreak with the ACC Cougars who both finished the season with records of 2-14.

The Pilots 3-1 win sets up an epic 2018 MCAC Men's Volleyball Final between two teams who appear to be equal in every way. The Blazers and Pilots each won 2 matches and lost 2 matches in their four head-to-head meetings during the season and finished with mirror records of 13-3. The Championship Final happens on Sunday afternoon at 1:00 pm at Red River College's North Gymnasium. 



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