Neither the Porter Creek Rams nor the FH Collins Warriors have put a dent in the Vanier Crusaders’ records this season.
Both of the Crusaders senior volleyball teams have finished the Super Volley regular season undefeated, beating the FH Collins Warriors teams at Vanier Catholic Secondary on Thursday.
Both Vanier teams earned a bye to the Super Volley finals on November 18 at FH Collins.
“With this particular group, it’s been a project since Grade 8,” said Crusader boys head coach Russ Tait. “You can see the contrast between the guys with the experience and the guys who don’t in the second set, when I had the whole bench in there.
“The secret is they have worked hard for five or six years, throughout the whole season, not just the high school season, and it shows.”
The Crusader boys finished their undefeated regular season with a 25-8, 20-25, 25-12, 25-15 win over the Warriors.
For the Warriors, who are winless in Super Volley thus far, there were still signs of progress.
“We took a set off Vanier, which is our first of the year, so things are getting better,” said Warriors head coach Shaun McLoughlin.
“We know some of (Vanier’s) weaknesses and started to exploit it tonight, but not all the time.”
An undefeated regular season is simply the cherry on top of two other accomplishments so far this season. The Crusaders, who have six former Team Yukon players on the roster, won the Dawson Invitational over Halloween weekend and defeated the No. 3 and No. 4 ranked teams in Alberta at a Red Deer tournament a week earlier.
Securing the unblemished season record for Vanier on Thursday was Crusaders’ Player of the Game, power hitter Mike Hunter, with his 10th kill of the match at match-point.
Hunter, who tied teammate Mason Gray for the most kills, had a 100 per cent in-play efficiency stat, not missing or getting blocked on any of 17 attack opportunities.
“He was just real steady,” said Tait. “The balls he didn’t get kills on he still kept in play and didn’t get blocked.”
Another noteworthy performance came from Crusaders captain Lowell Tait, leading his team with seven aces, most of which came through a nine-point run at the start of the third set.
Named Player of the Game for the Warriors was right-side Owen Hedstrom-Langford.
“He’s just coming back; he was on the Experiential Science Program for the last month,” said McLoughlin. “It’s a nice addition having some size on that side with a much bigger block.”
Girls’ game goes five sets
While the Crusaders senior girls team has the same immaculate Super Volley record as the boys, theirs has not come so easily.
The Vanier crew were pushed to a fifth set by the Warriors for the second time this season, but eventually held on for a 25-11, 20-25, 15-25, 25-15, 15-9 win.
“Out team played well, especially in the second and third set – we were playing well at the net,” said Warriors captain Dahria Beatty. “In the last two sets we had some good ideas, they just weren’t coming through, which is unfortunate.”
The Crusader won the fifth set from the service line. Vanier’s Tatum Koser did the most damage, winning five straight points – with three service winners – on her serve to go up 12-7.
“They had very good serving tonight, very consistent. We missed a few serves and that got us down a bit,” said Beatty.
“We had parts of certain sets that we played really well at and we just have to focus on the things we did well. Our team is still learning at each practice, so I feel we’re just going to keep getting better.”
The Crusaders, like the boys squad, also won the Dawson Invitational and have more former Team Yukon players than the other Whitehorse teams with four, including Robyn Fortune, captain of both squads, who was named Player of the Game for the Crusaders.
Named Player of the Game for the Warriors was setter Odette Rivard.
“She’s a really good setter and really fast on the court,” said Beatty. “She’s always there and has great movement. When she was in the front-court she had some really nice sets and she also had really good hits when Taylor (Forsgreen) was setting. She’s very versatile.”
The previous evening, while hosting the Porter Creek Rams, the Crusader boys won 25-17, 25-19, 25-10 and the girls won 25-19, 25-18, 25-20.
The Rams and Warriors will be squaring off in the Super Volley semifinals, in boys and girls, on November 17 at FH Collins.
“Every match against Porter Creek has got closer and closer in the sets,” said McLoughlin. “We’re the underdog and now’s our chance to try and surprise someone.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org