Tensions were high on the Vanier Crusaders’ bench during the senior girls Super Volley match at Porter Creek Secondary School on Wednesday.
Playing the hosting Porter Creek Rams, the Crusaders found themselves in a fifth set after dropping a two set lead. Losing their season opener against the F.H. Collins Warriors two weeks ago after taking the first two sets was still fresh in their minds.
“I was teasing the girls when I came in, if I wasn’t grey already, I would have gotten a few more grey hairs,” said Crusaders head coach Terri Park. “The kids are such a strong group and they are really starting to show what they can do… They are starting to gel and are working through some of these issues.
“We had a few mental errors, getting out of rotation, but I also had a couple girls in positions they hadn’t played.”
Despite losing momentum in the third and fourth sets, the Crusaders hung on to take the match 25-13, 25-14, 19-25, 24-26, 15-10. Both teams now have a 1-1 regular season record.
Apparently the Rams were also dealing with nerves.
“I think they were all really nervous,” said Rams head coach Kendra Thomson. “When I came into the gym before the game, they were all looking at me like, ‘What’s going on?’
“I think they finally got their groove back and realized they can compete with this team and they are not a big scary team.”
The Crusaders came out strong. They won 10 consecutive points on the serve of Meghan Young to take a commanding 11-1 in the first set. Vanier took the first set on a kill from Bailey Kuzma and the second set on a strong serve from Shae-Lynn Boyko.
“Maggie Frison did an amazing job setting tonight,” said Park. “Chanel Newell was amazing tonight. She was swinging from everywhere. She stepped in and set for a while. She played middle, off-side and set and did everything well.”
The Rams held a lead throughout the third set, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on the serve of Brittany Milner, who put down an ace on the second point. Megan Lanigan later aced the Crusaders for set-point in the fourth set before a Vanier volley went long to tie the match.
Tied 8-8 in the fifth, Vanier’s Taylor Olson put in a pair of strong serves, including an ace, to put her team ahead. Anticlimactically, the Crusaders took the match on a missed serve by the Rams.
“There were definitely things that were good,” said Thomson. “There were definitely things I’d never seen our team do before. It’s a Wednesday – it’s a weird day to have game days.
“Daria Jordan was awesome tonight; Megan Lanigan’s passing was spot on; Sadie Whitelaw had some great kills tonight.”
Rams come from behind
After dropping the opening set, the Rams senior boys team won three straight to down the Crusaders 20-25, 25-19, 25-13, 25-20 on Wednesday.
The Rams, who are now 1-1 in Super Volley, cut back on the errors to get back in the match, explained head coach Derick Bilodeau.
“I think we were just more consistent; we weren’t making as many mistakes on our side of the court,” said Bilodeau. “We didn’t miss our serves, we made better passes and were able to get some hits in.”
Vanier looked on their way to forcing a fifth set, taking a 4-0 lead to start the fourth. But four consecutive points on the serve of Brody Smith tied the set 7-7, and a pair of kills from Riley Andrew put the Rams up 14-10 soon after.
“Our setters, Mike Wintemute and Riley Andrew, were both playing fairly well,” said Bilodeau. “They were both setting consistently and were both hitting fairly well.
“Brady Dendys was getting some pretty good hits.”
The Crusaders are now winless after two Super Volley matches as they head to a tournament this weekend in Calgary. Head coach Dustin Shewfelt will be looking to keep them chatty on the court.
“I think our attitude on the court was a bit more positive in the first set; the guys were happy, loose and playing well,” said Shewfelt. “I don’t think we finished as well as we could have in the first. When we made substitutions and guys went in cold, that quieted us down and people took a backseat approach and were less aggressive.
“We just had a talk about needing to talk and communicate on the court because it got quieter and quieter as the sets went on.”
The Rams were especially dominant in the third set, not just offensively, but defensively. They seemed to have found an answer to the Crusaders’ big hitter, power Cody Park.
“I think the turning point of the match was (in the third set) when our setter there, Mike Wintemute, blocked their best hitter (Park),” said Bilodeau. “Mike came up big two or three times in a row and blocked him and gave our team a big lift.”
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