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Clippers win ACAC women’s volleyball championship

Briercrest College defeats Red Deer in gold medal game to win first title since 2015-16; men’s team falls in bronze medal game
The Briercrest College Clippers headed into the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference women’s volleyball championship tournament knowing that if everything played out according to plan, they’d find themselves wearing gold on Saturday evening.

As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.

The Clippers defeated the Red Deer College Queens 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23, 15-12) in an epic back-and-forth battle in the gold medal final at Medicine Hat College on Saturday, capping a perfect weekend with their first ACAC title since 2015-16.

Becky Garner capped an incredible ACAC campaign with 31 kills in the gold medal game and was named the tournament’s most valuable player during the post-game ceremony.

Faith Buhler added 13 kills in the final, while libero Kirsty Kindrachuck led the defence with 17 digs, Reece Harder added 14 and setter Ashley Erickson 12. Mikayla Benterud, who led the ACAC with 64 service aces through the season, added another three in the gold medal game and led the tournament with 10 for the weekend.

As it turns out, the final would be the only serious challenge the Clippers (22-2 regular season) would face, as they steamrolled both The King’s University (20-4) and NAIT (9-15) in their first two contests.

In the semifinal against King’s, Garner recorded 16 kills to lead all front row players as the Clippers would take a 3-0 (25-23, 25-18, 25-19) win. Buhler picked up nine kills, Kindrachuck and Harder added 15 and 13 digs respectively.

That contest carried extra weight as the semifinal winners would receive an automatic bye into the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association championship due to the CCAA awarding the ACAC a wild-card berth at the beginning of the season.

Briercrest opened the tournament with a comfortable 3-0 (25-9, 25-20, 25-21) win over the Ooks, with Harder and Garner each picking up 11 kills. Garner added nine digs to go along with eight from Mia Harder; Benterud added four service aces.

The Clippers – ranked second in Canada from the start of the season – will now advance to the CCAA championship from Mar. 11-14 at CEGEP Garneau in Quebec City.

The Clippers men’s volleyball team carried a 14-10 record as the South Division’s fourth seed into their ACAC tournament and ended up putting together a fourth-place showing in Lethbridge.

Things got off to a solid start for Briecrest, as they upset the top seed out of the North Division – the 20-4 NAIT Ooks – 3-1 (20-25, 25-18, 25-11, 25-20) in their opening match.

Bryton Codd picked up right where he left off in the regular season with a 34-kill performance, while Karym Coleman put down 15 kills. Brady Watchel had 28 digs, Davis Borden added 13.

That would be the last bit of good news for the Clippers, though, as they ran into the Red Deer Kings in their semifinal and fell 3-0 (25-20, 25-13, 25-19). Coleman had 16 kills, Watchel nine digs in the loss.

Things were better in the bronze medal game, but Briercrest wouldn’t be able to find the win, falling 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-23, 15-12) to the SAIT Trojans (17-7). Coleman again led the offence with 28 kills and added 18 digs, while Codd had 13 kills and 13 digs. Wachtel added 16 digs, Borden 11.

Red Deer defeated Lethbridge 3-1 (23-25, 25-19, 25-20, 25-23) to win the ACAC men’s volleyball title, with both teams advancing to the CCAA championship at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, N.B. from Mar. 11-14.

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