Crusader teams advance over Warriors

They took different routes, but in the end the two Vanier Crusader senior teams - both the second seeds - advanced to Friday's Super Volley finals with wins over the FH Collins Warriors, Thursday evening at Vanier Catholic Secondary.

They weren’t exactly mirror images of each other, but the results of the two Super Volley semifinals had some obvious similarities.

They took different routes, but in the end the two Vanier Crusader senior teams – both the second seeds – advanced to Friday’s Super Volley finals with wins over the FH Collins Warriors, Thursday evening at Vanier Catholic Secondary.

The Crusader girls worked past two fourth-set set-points for the Warriors, avoiding a fifth set in their 25-12, 25-6, 23-25, 29-27 win.

“We’re a team that plays hard, but then doesn’t have it together, and then we come out hard in the end,” said Crusaders middle back Terri Publicover. “Our focus is to work hard all at once.”

In what was the most lopsided set of the Super Volley season, the Crusaders expanded an 8-4 lead with 13 straight points on the serve of Publicover to go up 21-5 in the second. However, the Warriors bounced back to take the third, sealing the deal on a deep second-touch bump from Warrior middle Dahria Beatty that caught the Crusaders off guard.

“It takes our team a while to warm up, but once we start playing together and communicating, we play well,” said Beatty, who was her team’s Player of the Game. “When we stop talking we lose our momentum, so I think that’s what happened the second set. But we were able to bring it back together in the third set and play volleyball like we know we can.”

The Crusaders’ Player of the Game was setter Robyn Fortune.

“She set so well – she got the second ball every time,” said Publicover. “She did really well.”

The Crusaders will face the Porter Creek Rams tonight at home. The Rams went undefeated throughout the regular season, except for their last game against the Crusaders, where the Vanier team almost dropped a two-set lead, eventually hanging on for the win in the fifth.

The Dawson Invitational champion Crusader boys will be looking to topple the top seeded Rams in tonight’s final, advancing past the Warriors with a solid 25-10, 25-16, 25-12 victory.

While actions speak louder than words, Crusaders middle Albert Spycher wouldn’t mind hearing a little more talk from his team between points in the final.

“More excited; more celebrations. Be loud. We need to be louder, talk more to each other,” said Spycher. “(Tonight) was a little bit flat; we could have come out a little more intense.”

If there was a point where the Warriors could have turned the game around, it was a 6-4 lead in the second set. But three straight kills from Crusaders’ Player of the Game, Michael Hunter, starting a 10-point run, quickly put his team back in the driver’s seat.

“He always plays well,” said Spycher of Hunter. “He can put the ball down and all that stuff.”

The loss for the Warriors was an unwelcome milestone for the team, now having gone the entire Super Volley season without a win.

With so many players balancing volleyball with other sports, rest is going to be important as the team looks to the Yukon Championships.

“We’re going to work on rest and our positions on the court,” said Warriors coach Shaun McLoughlin. “And maybe a few other things to get them to be a little more aware of what’s happening on the other side of the net while they have the ball.

“That and rest. We have some tired bodies. I think every player on our team is a multi-sport athlete.”

Playing his first season as power, the Warriors’ Player of the Game was Tanner Coyne with nine kills.

“It’s nice to see that all the work he’s put into it over the last while is really paying off,” said McLoughlin. “He’s definitely becoming a force to be reckoned with out there.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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