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 email@example.com