The Vanier Crusaders senior teams were turning heads at the Rally Pointe Tournament in Calgary on Saturday.
Both teams from Vanier Catholic Secondary won their pool at the high school volleyball tournament before running out of steam in the playoffs.
Coaches from other teams “were surprised,” said Terri Park, head coach of the Crusaders’ girls team. “They were surprised at our skill level.”
“If our kids were doing these one-day tournaments every two weeks like the other teams are doing, we probably would have come out on top,” she added.
The Crusaders senior girls placed fourth out of six teams at the tournament, but showed themselves to be medal contenders.
They won their pool over Alberta’s St. Michael’s and St. Martin de Porres without dropping a set.
In the following round, the Crusaders split two-set matches with the teams that went on to win gold and silver. (In the opening rounds, instead of a best-of format, teams would just play two sets. If each team won a set, points won determined the winner.)
After advancing to the semifinal, the Crusaders went three sets with the eventual gold-winning team, Webber Academy, before losing.
“Webber Academy spoke to us and said, ‘Your kids are pretty good,’” said Park. “They were really impressed. Impressed with the skill level, but also how well the team worked together.”
The Crusaders then dropped another three-set match to the Canmore Kodiaks when playing for the bronze.
“I could probably mention every one of them,” said Park of her players. “Bailey Kuzma had an outstanding game. Our first game in the semi, it was the Bailey show. She was hitting from everywhere and really snapping it down. It was really impressive. But it was a solid defence and setting that was getting her in the position where she was getting these hits. So it was really a team thing.
“Maggie Frison was setting very well all weekend. Tatum Kozer had some key blocks, key hits. Chanel Newell, the same thing.
“Tayler Olson was libero every game … She just wasn’t missing; I think she had a couple missed passes the entire day.”
Despite dropping their first set of the tournament, the Crusaders senior boys won their pool, winning five consecutive sets.
They went into the playoffs as the top seed but fell to the bottom seed, having difficulty changing gears when facing a different pace of play.
“That’s where the wheels kind of fell off,” said Dustin Shewfelt, head coach of the Crusaders’ boys team. “We came across a shorter, smaller team and they were very, very good defensively … They blocked us well, they dug up all the junk we put at them. They also knew where our weaknesses were. They would tip the ball just over the hands of our blockers, down their backs and we couldn’t adapt fast enough.”
The loss to the Noble Central Kodiaks in the opening round of the playoffs eliminated the Crusaders and put them in the bottom four out of eight teams.
“John Koltun, who is our captain, was one of our most consistent players,” said Shewfelt. “(Power) Cody Park was more up and down. There was some times he was getting blocked, but he came back and responded well.
“Tristan did well with everything he was given – he’s a very consistent setter. He was working hard.
“I have nice things to say about everyone who went down there.”
Contact Tom Patrick at