Crusaders cruise to victory at home

Just days after winning their divisions at the Dawson Invitational Tournament, the Vanier Crusaders senior boys and girls teams were continuing their winning ways during Super Volley at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Wednesday.

Just days after winning their divisions at the Dawson Invitational Tournament, the Vanier Crusaders senior boys and girls teams were continuing their winning ways during Super Volley at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Wednesday.

Hosting the Porter Creek Rams, both Crusaders teams won in straight sets, with the boys winning 25-17, 25-19, 25-10 and the girls 25-19, 25-18, 25-20.

“We’re a pretty close team; we’ve been playing for five years together, so there’s good chemistry out there,” said Crusaders middle Mason Gray. “We’re just a strong team. We don’t commit too many errors. But Porter Creek is getting a lot better, so we have to keep it up.”

In addition to winning in Dawson, the Crusader boys are undefeated in Super Volley, earning the bye to the Super Volley finals on November 18. And they beat the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked teams in Alberta in a recent Red Deer tournament.

“They obviously are the team to beat this year, and to beat them we are going to have to make the next three weeks the best three weeks of high school volleyball known to mankind,” said Rams head coach Mike Kelly. “We’ve known all along we’re behind them and we’ve been trying to claw back and take baby steps so when it really counts, in the last game of the year, we’re close enough to maybe squeeze a victory out.”

The Crusaders took the first set on a kill from Mike Hunter, who led his team in the category with 12. Vanier took the second set on a kill down the line from Albert Spycher, who had six kills in the game and led the team in aces with four.

The team then cruised out to a 6-0 lead in the third set on the service of Justin Dragoman, who had two aces and four kills in the match.

“The first two sets were probably our two best sets of our year,” said Kelly. “Then in the third set, the train fell off the rails; we made too many unforced errors and lots of mistakes and the score really showed.

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“In the first two sets, I don’t think a ball hit the ground before we touched it. Just by getting a piece of their attack, slows it down a fraction of a second and lets our second guy get the ball.”

Named player of the game for the Crusaders was libero Charlie Kedziora.

“He’s just a consistent player, doesn’t make too many mistakes and stays focused all game,” said Gray. “He’s a steady player.”

Getting the corresponding honour for the Rams was setter Riley Andrew.

“He had good offence, giving all our players a chance to hit and was making (Vanier’s) defence somewhat confused,” said Kelly.

Rams let leads slip

The Rams senior girls are still experimenting, searching for the right positioning combination on the court. But they are running out of time.

Wednesday’s loss marked the end of the regular season for the Rams and the team will not be getting the bye to the Super Volley finals on November 18.

“We’ve mixed up a lot of stuff in Dawson, and even now we’re still mixing up positions,” said Rams captain Kiana Palamar. “Vanier always has people playing in the same positions and we don’t. At some points it’s our advantage and at some points it’s our weakness. We had girls playing in middle who hadn’t before.”

But not all is lost. The Rams came back from down 12-7 in the second set on Wednesday to take the lead and came back from being down 4-1 to take a 7-5 lead in the third.

“They weren’t passing it over well enough and giving us free-balls and we were going with kills back,” said Palamar.

However, in both cases the Crusaders fought to regain the lead.

“I think we played pretty well as a team,” said Crusaders captain Robyn Fortune. “Even though our energy was low, we didn’t make too many errors. It was a good weekend (in Dawson), but everyone’s a little tired.”

Down 12-9 in the third set, the Crusaders took back the lead on four straight service winners from Vanier Player of the Game Tatum Koser, with her flat, hard serve.

“She was hitting really well and serving really well, and she didn’t make too many errors,” said Fortune.

Named Player of the Game for the Rams was power Sadie Whitelaw.

“She swings awesome and she knows exactly how to play the game,” said Palamar. “She had a flawless game.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com