HELENA — Providence’s run of dominance in the Frontier Conference volleyball realm added another chapter on Saturday night. The Argos powered past Carroll 3-0 (25-21, 25-14, 25-14) to win their fourth-straight conference tournament championship and cap off an undefeated league slate.
“I just think it’s the culmination of a lot of great players in this program,” Providence head coach Arunas Duda said of the run of success. “A lot of hard work, a lot of blood, sweat and tears that they’ve put in to get us where we are today...We’ve got some seniors here that are pretty darn special. They’re the ones that make it work, they’re the ones that make it click and go.”
Redshirt senior Cydney Finberg-Roberts has been a driving force behind Providence’s streak. She was a Second-Team All-American last season and won seven Frontier Setter-of-the Week honors. A year before that, she broke a single-game league record with 75 assists and racked up 786 total assists and 237 digs in 28 games.
On Saturday, Finberg-Roberts accounted for 40 of Providence’s 43 assists and added nine digs and two kills.
“I signed with this school because I knew the coaches and the program were the most amazing in the state,” Finberg-Roberts said. “With what we’ve accomplished, I think it holds true to that. I’m just so excited that we were able to accomplish this for the city of Great Falls and for the school.
“It's the best group of girls. We work hard everyday. We play for each other, not just for ourselves. It’s just so fun going out and competing everyday at practice and everything with them.”
Finberg-Roberts won two state titles at Columbia Falls High School before joining Providence. Fellow senior Sacha Legros transferred from a successful junior-college program. Similar backgrounds are shared throughout Providence’s roster, and that championship mindset, according to Duda, is what makes this team and ones before it so good.
“They’ve earned it. From the minute they walked into the program they’ve been ready to go,” Duda said. “They’ve been champions at every level they’ve been at...They’re just kids that know how to win and how to get it done. They’ve brought that mentality to our practices everyday.”
Sadie Lott, a freshman, paced Providence with 11 kills on Saturday. She also added 10 digs and assisted on two blocks.
“She’s incredible. She does a little bit of everything for us and she definitely keeps it going,” Duda said of Lott. “Just such poise and such maturity for a freshman. She means the world to our program.”
Carroll beat Montana Western and Montana Tech on Friday to match up with Providence in the championship. The Saints had not beaten the Orediggers in three tries this season up until that point and were attempting to replicate that feat against the Argos.
Down 20-11 in the first set, Carroll battled back, closing the margin to just three points before Providence scored the set’s final two points. From there, while Carroll fought, Providence rolled in the second and third.
“The adversity that we overcame this season, it was more than I could share on tape...Injuries and sickness and games being cancelled,” Carroll head coach Moe Boyle said. “Just a tremendous amount of adversity where they had to stick together.
“We used a lot of different girls, we ran a lot of different schemes. I think they believed in the process and got us to where we are. We did not have the game that we [wanted] tonight, but it shows that we haven’t been in the championship for a while. I think when that stings and that leaves a note on the hearts of those that get to come back next year, hopefully that can raise the bar for us as we come back.”
Saturday was Carroll’s first appearance in the tournament championship game since the Saints took home the hardware in 2016. It was a relatively young group of Saints that accomplished that feat this year with only Taelyr Krantz and Lexi Mikkelsen making up the senior class.
In front of packed PE Center bleachers and loud Carroll fans, the Saints battled with a top-5 NAIA volleyball team.
“To send our two seniors out with a crowd that believed in them I think is awesome,” Boyle said. “Lexi Mikkelsen and Taelyr Krantz have given a tremendous amount to the program, from time and effort and sacrifice...They’re both all-Americans leaving the program and that’s going to leave a mark, but they’ve also left their mark on the program.”
The Argos will get a week to prepare for the NAIA Volleyball National Championship. Opening rounds will be hosted on campus sites next Saturday, while the final site matches will be played in Sioux City, Iowa, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 4.
“I feel like we’re just starting to play our best ball. Last two matches, I thought, were really good,” Duda said. “Thought the girls came together and played well. Very focused, very determined and I’m just so proud of their poise. You want to be playing your best ball at the end of the year and I feel like we’re just starting to.”