Crusader girls take Super Volley title

It will be up to this weekend’s Yukon Championships to decide, between the Vanier Crusaders and the Porter Creek Rams, which senior girls’ team is superior.

It will be up to this weekend’s Yukon Championships to decide, between the Vanier Crusaders and the Porter Creek Rams, which senior girls’ team is superior.

After losing to the Rams in the finals of the Dawson Invitational, the Crusaders evened the score with a 15-25, 25-21, 25-21, 26-24 win over Porter Creek in the Super Volley finals Friday at Vanier Catholic Secondary.

Making things tighter between the teams, the top-seeded Rams, who reached the final via a bye, also split the regular season games with the Crusaders. (There are near identical circumstances in the senior boys’ division, with the Dawson champion Crusaders losing Friday’s final to the Rams. Those two teams also split their regular season games.)

“It’s awesome,” said Crusaders libero Patty Wallingham. “We’re just recovering from Dawson and it’s just awesome to win a big thing like this.

“I think we played great this time. We were covering the ball and were playing really well.”

“It’s disappointing for sure,” said Rams had coach Jordan Borgford. “We had a real strong first set. We were playing well and everyone was doing what they needed to.

“After that nothing really clicked.

“Vanier plays tough and they don’t give up on anything. They make some plays you’re not expecting and sometimes they catch you off guard.”

Crusaders captain Kelsey Smeeton, who was named Super Volley’s season MVP, racked up 10 kills in the finals. She also played a pivotal part in closing out the third set and eventually the match.

“She is so consistent and you can always count on her to be there,” said Wallingham. “She’s a great hitter and an all-around great player.”

The Crusaders reached set point in the third on a long spike from Ram Emily McDougall, who had 17 kills in the match. Smeeton then closed it out bumping her team’s third hit, surprisingly finding an empty corner with it.

The match looked to be on its way to a fifth set with the Rams getting set-point in the fourth. However, a rotation violation cost the team the point and gave the Crusaders match-point.

“Someone was a little too eager or something, so instead of us serving at game-point, we were being served at,” said Borgford.

The Rams managed to quash the Crusaders’ first match-point with Courtney Greenway finding the line with a kill, but at 25-24 Smeeton stuffed a free-ball for the win.

To reach the finals, the Crusader girls worked past two fourth-set set-points for the FH Collins Warriors, avoiding a fifth set in their 25-12, 25-6, 23-25, 29-27 win in Thursday’s semifinal.

“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 in the second set. But we were able to bring it back together in the third set and play volleyball like we know we can.”

Super Volley All-Star team

Erica New (Crusaders)

Patty Wallingham (Crusaders)

Erin Borgford (Rams)

Emily McDougall (Rams)

Taylor Hanna (Warriors)

Dahria Beatty (Warriors)

MVP Kelsey Smeeton (Crusaders)

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com