Millar College of the Bible played host to the Prairie Athletic Conference Provincial Championships this past weekend in Pambrun, SK. There were five teams on the men’s side and six on the women’s, with close competition in both divisions. Teams were ranked based on their regular season finishes and were placed into a double knockout draw – 4th playing 5th, 3rd playing 6th and 1st and 2nd receiving a bi for the first round.
The weekend opened with a nail-biter. The fifth ranked Millar Edge ladies were facing the fourth place Sask Poly Wild. Two out of the three times these teams played each other during regular season, it took three games to decide a winner. This game would prove to be no different. The Wild took the first game 25-16, but Millar would fight back in the second, winning by a score of 25-18. The third set would need extra points and in the end, it was the Edge 17-15 over the Wild. This would send the Edge on to face the league champ, Sask Poly Amaruks from Saskatoon.
Next up on the women’s side, it was the Great Plains Sundogs (6th) taking on the short benched Sask Poly Panthers (3rd) out of Moose Jaw. It would be the Panthers all the way, winning both sets convincingly. This would allow the Panthers to move on to play the second place Prairie Pilots, still on Friday evening.
The Millar Edge had their work cut out for them coming up against the number one Amaruks. The Amaruks came out swinging and took the Edge in two straight.
The Panthers still had another game to play on Friday and that against the Prairie Pilots from Three Hills, AB. The Pilots struggled early and the Panthers were able to take the games, sending the Panthers on in their quest for gold.
On the men’s side on Friday evening, things were also interesting. The 4th ranked Sask Poly Panthers were up against the 5th place Great Plains Sundogs. It would be the Sundogs snatching the victory by close scores: 25-18 and 27-25.
The Prairie Pilots men’s team also had their work cut out for them to keep their 2nd place ranking, coming up against the home team, Millar Edge. The home court proved to be an advantage and the Edge kept a clean record winning 25-22 and 25-17.
The Sundogs early upset of the Panthers sent them on to face the Sask Poly Amaruks and the Amaruks would prove why they were number one taking the match from the ‘Dogs in two straight.
Saturday morning started with the Millar Edge ladies taking on the Great Plains Sundogs. A loss for either team would mean the end of the weekend and neither team wanted that outcome. It was the Edge who would avoid elimination, winning both games by a score of 25-18.
The other game that would send someone home on the women’s side was between the Prairie Pilots and the Sask Poly Wild. It was a fight to the end of the first; the Wild taking it 27-25. The second game would also belong to the Wild, meaning the Edge and Wild would be squaring off for the second time in two days; the winner given the opportunity to keep their championship dreams alive.
The home team started well but couldn’t find a way to keep the Wild down. The Wild was hungry for redemption after the previous nights’ loss and would be avenged, 25-23 and 25-16. This completed the weekend for the Edge and sent the Wild on to take the loser of the Amaruks and Panthers game, which was up next.
The, now 17-0 Amaruks found themselves against the 3rd place Panthers. It was a fantastic match – full of crazy rallies and unbelievable digs. Sask Poly Saskatoon would take the first game 25-18, but the Panthers came back taking the lead early in the second. The ‘Ruks wouldn’t go down easy but the Panthers still took the game, 25-23. This set up an intense third set that, again would see Sask Poly Moose Jaw up early. This time, though the Amaruks would get to 15 first, taking the third 15-13.
The loss for the Panthers set them up to face the Wild, both teams fighting for their spot in the championship game against the Sask Poly Amaruks. The Panthers were missing yet another player – taking on the Wild with only six players now – and that grit that pushed the ‘Ruks in the previous game would continue to push the Panthers on. They would take the Wild down, 29-27 and 25-20.
This pitted the Panthers and Amaruks against each other one more time – this time for the title. The Panthers showed tremendous heart, but the ‘Ruks would keep their spotless record taking the five set championship match in three: 25-16, 25-12 and 26-24. The Amaruks’ Victoria Gryba was awarded the Playoff MVP.
For the men, it would be an eventful day as well. The morning started with the Panthers taking on the Prairie Pilots. The Pilots would emerge victorious, sending the Panthers home. The win would send the Pilots on to face the Great Plains Sundogs who had upset the Panthers just one day prior. The Sundogs fought hard, narrowly losing the first 25-21. The Pilots would go on to send home the second team of the day, the Sundogs.
The room was electric as the Millar Edge and Sask Poly Amaruks took the court on Saturday. It had the feeling of the championship, yet the game would not send either team home for the weekend. Rather, a win would secure a spot in the championship match, and a loss would mean duking it out with the Pilots for the other spot in the championship game. The home team would once again take advantage of home court and the boisterous fans, taking the first game 25-21. The ‘Ruks did their best to stifle the crowd with a 25-19 win in the second. The third game would keep the audience engaged, going right to 15-13; the victory to the Millar Edge.
The Pilots were rolling along, after sending two teams home already. They were now to take on the number one Sask Poly Amaruks for a berth in the championship against the Edge. The Pilots, however, kept their hopes alive, upsetting the Amaruks 25-21 and 25-18.
This set up a rematch of Friday’s game: the number two Prairie Pilots versus the home team and third ranked Millar Edge. The Pilots had to fight their way into the championship after their loss to Millar the previous day, so one would have expected a tired squad for the best of five match. The momentum continued for the Pilots though, and they took the first game 25-20. The Edge wasn’t going to go down easy, coming back for game two, 25-18. The Pilots rallied for the third (25-20), and with the fourth set (25-18), the Pilots would take the title. Playoff MVP went to Pilots captain, Patrick Woodlands.
Next action for most of these teams will be this coming weekend when the Prairie Athletic Conference and the Great Plains Sundogs are pleased to host the Western Canadian Open. Games will be held in Swift Current at Irwin School and the Swift Current Comprehensive High School. Teams from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta will be in attendance.