GREAT FALLS — The University of Providence volleyball team keeps raising its standards and this season has been dominant. UP won its third consecutive Frontier Conference tournament, collected the program's first outright regular-season title, and is currently on an 18-match win streak to bring its overall record to 20-2.
It makes sense, considering one of the team’s leaders is no stranger to immense success.
After leading the league and being third in the nation in assists (1,019) and assists per set (11.8), redshirt-junior setter Cydney Finberg-Roberts won the Frontier Conference player of the year on Monday. She's the second Argo in a row to do so after Kelsey Shaver last season.
"It definitely wasn't on my radar. That's not what I go into the season looking forward to but when coach announced it and told me, it was really exciting," Finberg-Roberts said. "I'm really appreciative of it but I just love playing for my coaches, for my teammates -- every day going and grinding for them."
"Player of the year" may not have been on her radar, but winning a ton of games and championships in college seemed like something Finberg-Roberts was bound to do. As a prep star at Columbia Falls, she was a key part of back-to-back Class A volleyball state championships in 2015 and 2016 and a state championship in basketball in 2017 with her dad Cary as her coach.
"She's a coach's kid, and so growing up with that background in the family, she just really understands the game very well and understands how to learn and how to progress and how when you fail, you just pick yourself back up and keep pushing," Duda said. "She's come a long way since she was here."
Her teammates appreciate the leadership. Behind Finberg-Roberts, the Argos had five other players receive conference awards. Beyond the court success, she’s a great friend.
"She's my best friend on this team. We both came in as freshmen four years ago in a big group, and me and her are the only two left," senior middle blocker Ember Schwindt said. "So just having her here, it's everything. I couldn't have asked for anything better. She's my best friend. And she just makes everything about playing with this team so much better."
Now Finberg-Roberts and the Argos hope to keep the hot streak going when they host Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) in the first round of the NAIA national tournament at 4 p.m. on Saturday. It will be the first time the Argos have faced a non-conference opponent this season. If they win that, it’s on to Sioux City, Iowa, for pool play with the final 24 teams in the tournament.
"Oh, my goodness, it's so nice thinking about traveling and stuff," Finberg-Roberts said. "You know, we haven't done that in a while. And it'll be exciting."