by ACAC Sports Writer Curtis J. Phillips
In the last Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) women's volleyball rankings posted February 19, 2019, a total of four Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) teams made a placement in the Top 15.
The Kings University Eagles No. 2, Briercrest Clippers No. 6, Lakeland College Rustlers No.8 and Red Deer College Queens No. 12.
Heading into 2018-2019 ACAC Women's Volleyball Championships which set off Thursday and concluded today at the Lion's Den, home of the Ambrose University Lions, how did these rankings hold true?
Well, in the gold medal game it was the Eagles and Clippers.
While in the bronze medal game it was Lakeland and the University of Alberta Augustana Vikings.
So the rankings were 75% correct.
The Clippers and Eagles have been in the ACAC gold match before.
In fact, the two teams went head-to-head in 2015-2016 in Red Deer with the Clippers beating the Eagles (25-21, 25-20, and 25-20) for bragging rights.
In the 2018-2019 championship version, Clippers had advanced to Game 11 by beating Grande Prairie Regional College Wolves 26-24, 25-17, 20-25, 19-25 and then Lakeland College Rustlers 26-28, 26-24, 17-25, 25-23, 15-9 in the semi-final.
Falling to the Eagles was SAIT Trojans 33-31, 31-33, 25-22, 25-17 and University of Alberta Augustana Vikings 25-21 25-14 25-21 in semi-finals.
Clippers big guns heading into gold country, was South All Conference All Stars: hitters Rebecca Garner and Mia Harder along with middle blocker Mikayla Benterud and setter Ashley Erickson.
Eagles had selected to the North Conference All Stars, hitter Jayden Bontke, middle blocker Sydney Warchola, setter Jada Lea and libero Tracy Eqashikiw.
The contest would feature many ACAC leaders: Garner led the ACAC in total kills with 289 and service aces per set at 0.75 while Bontkes has most kills per set at 4.00. Warchola best hitting percentage .500
Following is the GOLD medal game report from the ACAC Championship website:
The Kings University Eagles 3 Briercrest Clippers 0 25-23, 25-15, 25-21
The Gold medal game saw the #1 seed in the south take on the #1 seed in the north. The heavy hitters definitely came to play in the 1st set of the Gold medal game. Bontkes showed here true colors once again picking up 6 kills while not making an attack error. Warchola for the kings had another 4 as the Kings just took the first set 25-23. Becky Garner had 7 herself in the first set. The set went back and forth, neither team taking much of a lead at all.
The 2nd start started just like the first, huge swings from both teams forced the backrow players to be sharp. Both of these teams can easily turn a bad pass into points, so it all came down to, which backrow unit could keep the ball off the floor when under duress. Midway through the 2nd set, Briercrest struggled matching the pure power of Kings. Jada Lea kept getter the ball to her attackers in prime spots and they were not making any mistakes. The Eagles pulled away going up 14-5. Briercrest couldn't stop the Kings momentum and ended up winning the set 25-15.
In the 3rd Kings pulled out to an early lead again going up 11-4. Briercrest had to start relying on tips or rolls to the back corner as the block from the Kings Eagles was very strong in this match. Briercrest went on a run to get the game back within 1 as the score was 13-14 when TKU called a timeout. Although Briercrest put up a fight, the Eagles were too strong today winning in 3 sets and claiming the ACAC Women's Volleyball Championship.
Bronze medal was captured by Rustlers over the Vikings 3-1 25-17, 25-11, 20-25, 25-19
Both teams – Eagles and Clippers - head off to Welland, Ontario for the 2018-2019 Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Women's Volleyball Championships March 6-9, 2019 and hosted by Niagara College.