Pilots Split Series Against Nationally-Ranked Blazers

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

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(NIVERVILLE, MB) – The Providence Pilots hosted the undefeated, nationally ranked Canadian Mennonite University Blazers at the Niverville Community Resource & Recreation Centre on Friday, February 2, and Saturday, February 3. In the drama-fueled game, the Pilots successfully blanked the Blazers 3-0 in Friday’s matchup, but the Blazers answered back with a 3-0 victory of their own on Saturday.

In the opening set of Friday’s game, the Pilots set the tone early by maintaining a five-point lead throughout the entire set. Efforts from rookie right side Cole Doell (Lowe Farm, MB) and second-year libero Hector Ortiz (Tegucigalpa, Honduras) kept the Pilots ahead of the Blazers. The Blazers wouldn’t go away quietly as they kept their pace of play, even though they had lost 25-20 to the Pilots in the first set.

Third-year middle Thomas Pain (Vernon, BC) would find his way into the game and contribute to the Pilots’ momentum. Second-year left-side Noah Boschman (Grunthal, MB) would begin to go on a tear alongside second-year middle Sebastian Verdageur (Melbourne, AUS). The Pilots and Blazers battled back and forth throughout the entire set, but the chemistry would click for the Pilots as they narrowly beat the Blazers 26-24 in the second set.

The third set didn’t get any easier, and the Blazers looked to pull away early. The Pilots relied on their skill and dug deep to keep the game within one point. The fans felt the energy, and the Pilots fed off of the electricity that consumed the CRRC. Just when it seemed that the Blazers were going to mount a comeback, the Pilots took a timeout that proved to be beneficial for their play. First-year middle Liam Buhler and Hector Ortiz would lock down the Pilots’ side defensively, allowing for Cole and Arturo Duran (San Pedro Sula, Honduras) to go on the hunt offensively. The Pilots would go from trailing the Blazers late in the third set to winning 29-27 and handing the nationally ranked CMU Blazers their first loss of the 2023-24 MCAC season.

The Blazers came back to the CRRC on Saturday night looking to rebound. The Pilots got off to a hot start, leading 6-0 early in the first, but the Blazers clawed their way to tie the set later on. The Blazers took a timeout late in the first set, tied 23 each, and took the court by storm to win 25-23.

The Pilots opened the second set with a five-point lead, which they couldn’t maintain. The Blazers’ firepower proved too lethal for the Pilots. This, combined with some defensively poor plays, allowed the Blazers to run away with the second set. The Blazers fed on the Pilots and took the final stretch of the second set in dominant fashion. A 25-17 victory for the Blazers put the Pilots in a tough position, but they didn’t go down without a fight.

Opening the third set was a super competitive game of volleyball mixed with some great defensive efforts from both teams. The CRRC was full of energy, even though the Pilots faced a 2-0 deficit. The Blazers started to wiggle out of the Pilots' way as they continued to get overwhelmed by the Blazers’ offense. The Blazers couldn’t leave th building without earning the final few points of the third set. Lengthy rallies and multiple desperation attempts by the Pilots weren’t enough to send the game into a fourth set, but they shook the nationally ranked-Blazers.

The Pilots play host to the St. Boniface Rouges on Friday, February 9th, in the final home game of the 2023-24 MCAC Volleyball season. First serve is set for 8:00 pm CST.

Author - Athletics