Briercrest loses to top seed Red Deer and will play for the bronze medal Sunday
By Jadon Frank
Briecrest College and Red Deer College faced off in the ACAC Championship semi-final, with the winner moving on to the Championship and an automatic birth in the CCAA National Championship in two weeks. Red Deer overpowered Briercrest at the service line to win 3-0 (25-18, 25-21, 25-22) Saturday, Feb. 23 at 6:00 pm.
The first set started as one would expect with two of the top teams in the ACAC, going back and forth to start the game with second year Steven Guenther making his presence known early with several kills to give Briercrest early one point leads. Red Deer took their first lead of the night 6-5 and then built it up to 12-5 before the teams played sideout ball. Briercrest was able to cut the score to 15-12 and force a Red Deer timeout. Red Deer regrouped out of the timeout to add two points to their score before Kyle Pankratz had a kill to get a point back. Red Deer kept rolling and forced a Briercrest timeout with a 20-13 edge. The teams went back and forth to end the set with Red Deer winning 25-18.
Red Deer began the second set where they left off the first with a quick 5-2 lead before Briercrest’s Kyle Pankratz helped cut the Red Deer lead to 7-6. Red Deer quickly responded to Briercrest’s push by building up their lead again at 11-7. The teams played side-out volleyball for the next four points aside, as Briercrest was having trouble with service errors. Midway through the second set it appeared that Red Deer woke up a sleeping giant as Kyle Pankratz, or as the announcer said “a big piece of timber,” as he briefly took over the game and lifted Briercrest to a 15-15 tie. Red Deer regrouped and went on their own run and restored their lead to 19-16. Red Deer continued to build their lead to 24-18. Briercrest fought back, but dropped the second set 25-21.
Down two sets to none, Briercrest looked for a jolt to their team and went to the previous night’s hero in Josh Senneker. The teams began the set back and forth before some exuberant kills from first year players Jachin Karg and Senneker to bring the score to 8-5 and forcing Red Deer to call a timeout. Red Deer came out of the timeout strong to build a 11-8 lead and force a Briercrest timeout. Red Deer scored three more points out of the timeout before Briercrest was able to get the ball back to serve. Red Deer continued to build their lead to 17-9 when Pankratz re-entered the game and helped spark Briecrest to quickly bring the score to 19-15 and force a Red Deer timeout at 20-18. The game went back and forth until Red Deer was able to finish Briecrest off with a final score of 25-22 for a 3-0 win (25-18, 25-21, 25-22).
Briercrest Player of the game was Kyle Pankratz, who had a game high 11 kills to go with six digs and one block.
Game notes: Briercrest and Red Deer each had five blocks while Red Deer held the edge in every other statistical category 37-32 kills, 6-1 aces and 47-30 digs. Leading Briercrest were Pankratz’s 11 kills, Steve Guenther with the lone Briercrest ace, Pablo Ancuna with nine digs and Josh Wendel with a game high three blocks.
Briercrest will face host Keyano College in the bronze medal game tomorrow, Sunday, February 24 at 1:00 pm local time.
Follow the games online at http://www.sportscanada.tv/index.php/ccaatv/acactv. Also, be sure to "like" Briercrest Volleyball for photos and updates.