It’s still early, and they aren’t exactly rolling over the competition, but the Vanier Crusaders senior boys have established themselves as the team to beat this Super Volley season.
“It’s looking good. We still have to keep our heads up and realize they can still come out and beat us – I know they are hungry
to beat us,” said Crusaders captain Henry Kedziora. “Porter Creek isn’t going to back down and FH Collins is only going to get
stronger. We have to stay on our toes.”
After launching a massive comeback against the Porter Creek Rams at home on Thursday, the Crusaders were on top again
the following night, defeating the FH Collins Warriors 25-18, 25-21, 26-28, 25-15 at Vanier.
After winning five straight sets over the two evenings, the Crusaders’ streak came to an end in the third, failing to capitalize
on three set-points before dropping the set.
The Warriors, who were playing their regular season opener, had some big blocks and digs in the third, but it was a play by
Warrior Trevor Hannah that got the gym humming.
Chasing an errant bump by a teammate that went over the net and was heading out of bounds, Hannah ran under the net –
not stepping on the Crusaders’ court – and bumped the ball back over the net to his Warrior teammates, who won the points.
For his effort and familiarity of the rules, Hannah was named his team’s Player of the Game.
“That’s just hustle and smarts,” said Warriors head coach Shaun McLoughlin. “Having that court awareness to know you can
go get that.
“A few big plays like that really defeated Vanier and proved to our guys that we can do it.”
Not taking anything away from the lesson the Rams learned the previous night when they dropped a two-set lead, the
Crusaders got a little too comfortable with their two-set lead on Friday, said Kedziora.
“We seemed to have it in the bag and we got a little lackadaisical,” said the captain. “That’s what happens, you ease up in the
third and they come back and beat you in five.”
For his ability to play through the stress, the Crusaders’ Player of the Game was Charlie Kedziora.
“When it comes down to clutch situations in the last couple points, you can count on him to keep swinging and always be
there to get the points and not collapse on us,” said Henry Kedziora of his brother, who helped his team win six straight points
on his serve in the fourth set.
While the Warriors team is made from mostly Grade 12s, many of them are either new to the sport or returning to it after
playing junior volleyball. “So they don’t have bad habits you have to break,” said McLoughlin.
“As the whole thing progressed I saw improvement the whole time – the players on our team get more and more familiar with
the game, their positioning – and I like the fact that I can put anyone out there, whatever line-up, and we’ll be competitive.”
In the season opener for both teams on Thursday, the Crusaders fought their way back into the match for a 20-25, 16-25, 25-
20, 25-15, 15-10 win over the Rams.
“It has to get to the point where the energy has to come from them and they’re working together as a team,” said Crusaders
head coach Russ Tait. “You’re looking at all 11th graders and one 12th, so you know there’s some nerves involved when
they’re first coming out.”
Led by Henry Kedziora from the service line and helped by Michael Hunter, slapping down kills at the net, the Crusaders
opened up midway through the third set, starting out on a nine-point win streak to take a 20-11 lead.
“In the third set they started to play, and when they relaxed – they’ve played a lot of ball together – they started to turn it
around,” said Tait.
Although a demoralizing loss for the Rams, the team did leave the locker room with a positive message, delivered by head
coach Mike Kelly.
“We came out of that game with less to learn and we’ll be better off for it,” said Kelly.
The Rams began the game looking loose, producing a power game at the net the Crusaders could not handle. The second set
was even more of a one-way struggle, with Rams captain Robin Smith, who was his team’s Player of the Game, putting his
team on an eight-point winning steak with his heavy spin serve, going up 13-5.
“In the first couple sets we were playing like we set out to play,” said Kelly. “We were very aggressive and had good passing,
everyone seemed fresh and energized.”
For his offensive game at the net and a good night of service, Hunter was named his team’s Player of the Game.
“It’s black or white with Michael,” said Tait. “It’s either a really good serve or it’s the other team’s point, so he has lots to learn
with that still. But he’s Grade 11 and volleyball is his game and he works hard, plays all summer and he has a real passion for
it and natural ability.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com