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Pilots back in the air after Christmas break

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The collegiate sports schedule in Manitoba is back in full swing, with volleyball, basketball and futsal teams all in action throughout January.

The Providence Pilots men’s and women’s basketball teams will be spending the early part of 2023 on the road in the States, as they continue to play out their National Christian Colleges Athletic Association (NCCAA) and National Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (NIAC) schedules.

The teams played three games in three days against Free Lutheran Bible College (Jan 12) and Oak Hills Christian College (Jan 13 and 14) in Minnesota.

Noah Boschman focuses as he tosses up the ball before a third-set service against Assiniboine Community College. Boschman, from Grunthal, helped the Providence Pilots to a straight-sets victory over the Brandon-based school Jan. 14. (Cassidy Dankochik The Carillon)

The men’s Pilots team went 1-2 over the weekend, picking up a 90-81 win against Free Lutheran Bible College before dropping two straight to Oak Hills, giving up 92 points in both losses.

The women’s team had better results, also defeating Free Lutheran before splitting their back-to-back with Oak Hills. The second game of the mini-series featured the second highest-scoring game in program history, a 112-103 victory.

The Providence basketball teams will be back in the U.S.A. this weekend, as they take on Trinity Bible College Jan. 20 and 21. They’ll return to their home gym in Niverville on Jan. 27 to host Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) for a game which will be counted in the standings in three different leagues.

The Manitoba Colleges Athletic (MCAC) basketball championships are set for Feb. 10, the NIAC championships are planned for Feb. 17 in Minneapolis and the NCCAA North Region tournament will begin March 2 in Iowa.

Pilots volleyball teams were also in action over the weekend, as the men’s and women’s teams hosted Assiniboine Community College (ACC) in Niverville. While the men’s team was able to easily take care of business, winning a straight-sets victory to solidify their second place spot in the MCAC standings and lead over ACC, the women’s team wasn’t so lucky.

Maddie Oselies looks to bump a ball to a teammate during the fifth set of Providence's loss to Assiniboine Community College Jan. 14. (Cassidy Dankochik The Carillon)

Locked in a battle for second place in the MCAC standings, the Pilots fell 3-2 (25-23, 14-25, 25-13, 20-25, 17-15) to last place ACC. Providence had their opponents on the ropes in the final set, up five points in a race to 15, but ACC rallied and were able to pull of the comeback victory.

Providence and CMU now have the exact same record. The MCAC volleyball championships are set for Feb. 25 in Winnipeg, to be hosted by the University of St Boniface (USB).

Finally, the MCAC futsal schedule kicked off this weekend. Futsal is a soccer-style sport played on a hard-court floor similar in size to basketball.

Each of the four schools participating in the futsal schedule hosts a mini-tournament, with each team playing two games of their MCAC schedule on each day.

The Pilots men’s team got off to a tough start to the season in Brandon, as they were the only team in the five-team loop to lose both of their opening day games. They first fell 7-3 to ACC before dropping a tough 7-5 decision to defending MCAC champions USB.

Providence players celebrate a third-set kill against ACC Jan. 14. (Cassidy Dankochik The Carillon)

The women’s team had a bit more success, managing to defeat ACC, but then falling to USB for a 1-1 record. The University of Brandon leads both the men’s and women’s standings as the only team at 2-0.

Providence will host the next set of men’s MCAC futsal games, with games in Niverville throughout the day Jan. 22. The women’s teams of the MCAC will be in Niverville Feb. 12. The provincial championships will take place at CMU Feb. 18/19.

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