Crusader girls split opening games

The Vanier Crusaders senior girls may have had a rough start to the Super Volley season, suffering a straight-set loss to the Porter Creek Rams Thursday.

The Vanier Crusaders senior girls had a rough start to the Super Volley season, suffering a straight-set loss to the

Porter Creek Rams Thursday. However, the team managed to level off their win-loss record with a straight-set win of their

own, defeating the FH Collins Warriors 25-12, 25-20, 25-18 at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Friday.

“We had a lot of time to think about it, to get over what happened last night,” said Crusaders setter Patty Wallingham, who

was acting team captain for both games. “We were really good at communicating this time. We still need to work on passing

but other than that we did a lot better. We seemed to cover those tips and talk a lot more.”

All three sets in Friday’s game had similar characteristics. Like the others, Crusaders took an early, comfortable lead in the

first set, going up 8-1, winning six straight points on the serve of Sam Henny. Each of the sets, and eventually the match,

ended on Warrior errors, with the first set ending on a net violation and the next two on missed serves.

“My girls were nervous tonight, but that’s expected,” said Warriors head coach Ken Kuni. “We didn’t take serves very well.

Our transition was not where it should be. It’s early in the season and our serving wasn’t where it should be.

“But there’s lots of positives to draw on. I have a lot of young girls who I haven’t seen before, so we’re just starting with 12

and working down to the six that will work best on the court together. That’s all I can do as a coach is find those six and hone

the skills of the 12 that I have.

“I have no complaints.”

The game was the regular season opener for the Warriors team, which is roughly two-thirds Grade 11 players.

Snagging Player of the Game for the Crusaders on Friday was middle Kelsey Smeeton.

“She’s always consistent with her hits and I can always depend on her on the court,” said Wallingham. “So she’s good to have

on the team.”

Taking the corresponding honour on the Warriors’ bench was captain Taylor Hanna.

“I’ve been lucky to have her on a few teams of mine over the years,” said Kuni. “She’s a great volleyball player and a good

leader. She tries 110 per cent all the time and as a coach I can’t ask for anything more from a player.”

While Thursday’s game against Porter Creek grew increasingly close, in the end the Rams were too much for the Crusaders

as they took a 25-14, 25-19, 25-23 win to start the Super Volley season.

“The first set was a serving game; there was a lot of passing errors off of serves in the first set – on both sides,” said Rams

head coach Jordan Borgford. “We always play a little more aggressive – I just want them to swing all the time, make

mistakes over the net instead of below the tape.”

With nine Grade 12s and three Grade 11s, roughly the opposite of the Crusaders squad, the Rams’ experience was seen early

on, taking a 5-0 lead to start the game, controlling rallies after hard, flat serves from setter Elly Oulton, whose serve later

helped the Rams take a 22-17 third-set lead on a five-point run.

However, getting Player of the Game for the Rams was Erin Borgford for her consistently aggressive play.

“She had a lot of kills – she was fairly aggressive with the ball,” said Borgford. “She had some good swings at the net and

some good backcourt attacks, which we’ve been working on.”

Working with a new “5-1 system,” with five attackers on the court with one setter, and dealing with opening night nerves,

Crusaders head coach Natasha Bilodeau wasn’t surprised with the outcome.

“It’s pretty much what I expected for our first match,” she said. “I think part of it was getting used to the new system and

working out jitters because I think the girls were really nervous tonight, to play in front of a crowd.”

Wallingham was the Crusaders’ Player of the Game on Thursday.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com