The final weekend of November found five post-secondary schools all converge on Southwest Saskatchewan, as the Millar College of the Bible Edge hosted the annual Prairie Athletic Conference Volleyball Championship. Over one hundred athletes competed for the three day tournament to see who would take home the banner.
Things kicked off with the play in games as the Prairie Pilot Ladies bested the host Millar Edge to book their ticket into the championship. The Prairie Pilot Men followed suit the following game as they defeated the Great Plains Sundogs to secure their spot to fight another day. The evening concluded with an awards banquet where individual athletes were recognized in the form of league all-stars and MVP’s. Coaches of the year were also announced as well as the teams that finished atop of the league in the regular season.
Friday saw four semi final matchup’s happen one after the other as the gym did not quiet down the entire day. First it was the second place Great Plains Sundog Ladies defeating the third place Burman Bobcats to send themselves to the final the following afternoon. The next match held the same fate for the Bobcats as their men’s team couldn’t pull off the upset against a high powered Millar Edge men’s team, as they finished second over the regular season, missing the number one spot by a single point. The following match saw the only upset of the day as the Prairie Ladies, fresh off of their upset win against the Edge, continued their winning streak beating the shorthanded regular season champion Briercrest Clippers on their way to the finals. The last game of the day was a repeat of the game before with the Men’s teams from Briercrest and Prairie facing off for the last spot in the finals. The Pilots put up a great battle, but in the end Briercrest showed why they finished the season in first place winning in three straight sets.
The final day of the Championships started off with some more relaxed events as the coaches all particpated in a coaches game to kick off the day, followed by a skills competition where each team entered players to compete in a hitting, serving, setting, and a “tennis” competition. The totals were tallied from the skills completion and the Prairie Pilots took home the prize for their school as they finished with the highest amount of collective points from the different competitions.
The final four games saw the bronze medal and gold medal matches for the Men and Women. The women’s bronze between Burman and Briercrest went all the way to five sets before Burman was able to squire out the four point victory. The Burman men followed the example of their ladies team defeating Prairie for their own Bronze medal.
The Gold medal matches both held an immense amount of excitement for the packed out gymnasium as the Women’s final set the tone early. The crowd was largely cheering for the Sundogs who were just from down the road, but the Prairie supporters made up for their numbers with their passion. Teams traded points back and forth, the Sundogs won the first set, the Pilots came right back and took the second. The Sundogs responded with a set win of their own before closing out the match in four, winning the championship. Jordan Jacobson, a veteran in the league, took home Playoff MVP honours.
The men’s game completely packed out the gymnasium as most of the student body from Millar, along with the many fans from Briercrest, brought their excitement to the final. The match started with a bang, as it was never more than just a few points in favour of one team or the other. The Millar men took the first two sets barely squeaking them out 27-25 and 25-22. Briercrest, knowing it was now or never, came out big in the third set winning 25-22 to bring them back within one going into the crucial fourth set. Millar knew this was cruicial and came out firing on all cylinders as, for the first time in the entire match, a team started to pull ahead. The Millar men ended up with the 25-15 victory winning the set, the match and the championship. Park Letts, like he had done all weekend led the way for the Edge and earned himself the Playoff MVP.
Overall an fantastic weekend of hard fought, exciting, emotional volleyball that displayed some of the amazing talent found in the Prairie Athletic Conference.