Crusaders down top seeded Rams in final

The Vanier Crusaders are the Super Volley champions for a fourth year in a row. It's not from a lack of stiff competition. The Crusaders beat the previously undefeated Porter Creek Rams in a close five-set match.

The Vanier Crusaders are the Super Volley champions for a fourth year in a row. It’s not from a lack of stiff competition.

The Crusaders beat the previously undefeated Porter Creek Rams in a close five-set match in the senior girls Super Volley final at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Friday.

“It was quite a surprise,” said Crusaders power Chanel Newell. “We took what we knew of them from previous games and we tried to play our best and work as a team.”

The Crusaders twice fought back from a set down to take the match 16-25, 25-23, 21-25, 25-19, 15-13.

Vanier defeated Porter Creek in five sets in last year’s Super Volley final. The Crusaders also defeated the Rams in the 2011 and 2010 final.

The two teams went to five sets in their previous Super Volley match with the Rams, who didn’t lose a match all season, taking the fifth set 15-13.

The Crusaders have a lot of five-set experience this season. They arrived in the final with a five-set win over the F.H. Collins Warriors on Thursday. It was the third time the Crusaders defeated the Warriors in five sets this season.

“We’ve never won against PC before (this season), so I guess they helped us by beating us so many times, so we could finally get it together and get over how nervous we always were,” said Newell.

The Rams won at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament – defeating the Crusaders in the final – last month and are the defending Yukon champs.

The team is looking forward to a rematch at the Yukon Volleyball Championships in a couple weeks.

“We didn’t play as well as we hoped to tonight,” said Rams head coach Amy Palamar. “Vanier came out with some very nice hitting, nice serving, so tonight just wasn’t our night.

“We’re really looking forward to our rematch at the championships.”

The Rams maintained a one- or two-point lead for most of the fifth set. The Crusaders tied the score 13-13 on a kill from Amy Hannon-Beatie before back-to-back kills from Newell sealed the deal.

Newell was named MVP for the Super Volley season.

“It makes me feel grateful and super excited,” said Newell. “I wasn’t expecting it or anything, so it was pretty awesome for me.”

Crusaders setter Brittany Au served for the final four points of the match and was named her team’s Player of the Game.

“In our critical times when serves are so important – all we want is just to get it in the court – she stepped up and put them in and that definitely contributed to the win,” said Crusaders co-head coach Roz Tait.

Surprisingly, both Newell and Au are new to their positions. A week before the final Newell was the team’s setter.

“Just this week we decided to switch it up,” said Tait. “We’ve been playing with the line-up all season and we finally found our flow.

“(Au) took on the setting role basically this week. That’s a huge role to take on.”

The Crusaders claimed the fourth set on a kill from Newell and the second set on consecutive unreturned serves from co-captain Sydney Young, who was named an All-Star following the match.

Vanier ran into trouble in the second set, dropping a 12-point lead. Up 17-5, the Crusaders eventually found themselves tied 20-20 with the Rams and then down 23-22 following a block from Rams middle Natassja Scott.

“I guess we were just pretty nervous,” said Newell of the evaporated lead. “We just have to give it to our coaches. They’re what holds us together.”

The Rams placed first in the regular season and received a bye into Friday’s final. Rams power Sam Wintemute was named Player of the Game for her team on Friday.

“I think our girls are finding their flow, our leaders are helping our team and everyone contributed to the win,” said Tait. “The girls were communicating and putting in their best effort, they definitely deserved their win tonight.

“Our whole team is who won the game for us. Whether they were playing or not playing, they are who brought us to the victory today.”

Super Volley All-Stars

Jaylene Kelly (Warriors)

Sam Burgis (Warriors)

Daria Jordan (Rams)

Hannah Milner (Rams)

Sydney Young (Crusaders)

Chloe Turner-Davis (Crusaders)

MVP Chanel Newell (Crusaders)

Contact Tom Patrick at

tomp@yukon-news.com