All that is left on the Vanier Crusaders’ checklist is the Yukon Volleyball Championships this weekend.
Both Vanier senior teams moved a step closer to achieving the triple-crown of Whitehorse high school volleyball by winning the Super Volley Championships on Friday at FH Collins Secondary.
In addition to going undefeated in the regular season, both Vanier teams won the Dawson Invitational over Halloween weekend.
“They’re not done yet; they know their goal is to finish off with the Yukon Championships,” said Crusader boys coach Russ Tait. “Everything that has happened so far really doesn’t matter anymore. We start over on Tuesday to work towards next weekend.”
Facing the Porter Creek Rams, the Crusader boys took the championship with a 25-15, 25-23, 26-24 win.
Though a straight-set win, the match contained some of the closest sets the Crusaders had played in Whitehorse all season. In fact, the Rams took a 21-20 lead in the second set and a 21-19 lead in the third.
“It was nice that all three sets were point-for-point kind of games and the lead changed hands between the teams,” said Rams head coach Mike Kelly. “That was the kind of game we were hoping for.
“There’s a sour taste in our mouth right now because we had the lead in two of the three sets, in the 20s, and we had them where we wanted them, but we couldn’t finish them off.
“The Yukon championships is the big one, and I think our team is starting to believe it’s within grasp.”
Super Volley season MVP, Albert Spycher of the Crusaders, saved some of his best play for last. The power hitter gave his team its first match-point at 24-23 with a big spike and three points later gave the win with an ace on his serve, painting the line with it.
“I missed a couple serves earlier in the match, but I just forgot all about that,” said Spycher. “I just happened to serve well and it tagged the back line.”
Spycher delivered nine kills in the final while teammate Mason Gray led with 10. Setter/captain Lowell Tait served up five aces and produced 33 assists.
Next weekend at the Yukon championships, “We need to watch our unforced errors, serving is a big thing for us and work on our blocking a little bit more,” added Spycher.
The Crusaders, which have six former Yukon players on board, had success outside the territory as well this season. In a tournament in Red Deer last month, the Crusaders defeated the No. 3 and 4 ranked teams in the province.
Having a great support staff makes a big difference, said coach Tait.
“(Assistant coach) Torey Wiebe, who is Vanier alumni, played in our school, was a key part of our program and went on to play at Douglas College,” said Tait. “He’s a great role-model for starters … He’s a real asset to our program.
“Riley Hildebrand does stats for all our matches – he came to Alberta with us – and those stats are really key as teaching tools, from kids seeing what they have to do and what they have to work on.”
Crusader girls come back for title
The Porter Creek Rams looked to be en route to the upset of the season on Friday, taking the opening set from the Crusaders.
However, momentum shifted quickly and the Crusaders responded with three consecutive sets to win 19-25, 25-20, 25-15, 25-19.
“This was one of the best matches that we played in,” said Crusaders head coach Kelly Bukowski. “Porter Creek was amazing. They’ve always been good, but they really scared us there.
“They earned (the first set). I wish I could say we weren’t up to par, but they totally earned that. Porter Creek did a really good job, the coaches are really good.”
After dropping the opening set, the Crusaders wasted no time in righting the ship, jumping out to a 4-0 lead on the serve of captain Robyn Fortune.
“We didn’t come out strong in the first set and Porter Creek did – they were just coming off a really good game last night,” said Fortune. “By the end of the first set we were picking it up and came back and had lots of momentum and energy.
“Everyone was doing a good job.”
“It’s always a game of momentum changes and metal mistakes,” said Rams head coach Jordan Borgford. “You try to minimize offensive mistakes. You make three or four in a row and suddenly you’re down by seven points – and Vanier does not give up a lead very easily.”
The Crusaders eventually reached match-point on a kill from season MVP Kelsey Smeeton. Season All-Star Erika New then closed the match with a spike off Ram blockers.
“She’s totally in control,” said Bukowski of Smeeton. “She made very few errors and she knew where to find the seams and if I tell her to hit a certain way, she just does it. And the few times that she’s off-script, she knows how to do the right thing.”
Both Rams teams advanced into the final with wins over the FH Collin Warriors the previous night. See coverage on page 41.
Linda Aranda (FHC)
Dahria Beatty (FHC)
Kiana Palama (PCSS)
Rowan Brown (PCSS)
Erika New (Vanier)
Robyn Fortune (Vanier)
MVP Kelsey Smeeton (Vanier)
Charlie Kedziora (Vanier)
Brady Bonnycastle (PCSS)
Lowell Tait (Vanier)
Michael Hunter (Vanier)
Josh Kelly (PCSS)
Mason Gray (Vanier)
MVP Albert Spycher (Vanier)
Contact Tom Patrick at