The F.H. Collins Warriors beat the Vanier Crusaders 3-2 in the Super Volley boys volleyball final on Nov. 8 at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse.
Coming into the game, the Crusaders had won their last three Super Volley games as well as the 2019 Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament. The Warriors on the other hand, finished second in Dawson but hadn’t won a Super Volley game until the semifinal on Nov. 7 against the Porter Creek Rams.
Things started well for the Warriors, who jumped out to an 8-6 lead early in the first set before the Crusaders rebounded to take a 17-14 lead.
F.H. Collins came back though, and led Vanier 23-21 near the end of the set. The two teams wound up tied 24-24 before the Warriors strung together enough consecutive points to win the opening set 27-25.
The Warriors carried the momentum from the opening set forward, jumping out to a 13-9 lead that ballooned to 17-11 before the Crusaders began to claw back into the set.
Down five with the score 19-14, the Crusaders brought the score within three at 21-18. From there the two sides traded points to make the score 24-21. With the set on the line, the Warriors were able to score the final point to win the set 25-21 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of five.
The third set started much the same as the previous two, as the Warriors were up 13-11 near the midpoint. Not ready to concede, the Crusaders took the lead with four straight points 15-13 and held on from there. Final score in the third set was 25-23 for the Crusaders, making the game 2-1 for the Warriors.
Vanier took the early 5-3 lead in the fourth, but F.H. Collins responded to take an 11-10 lead. The Warriors were beating the Crusaders 14-13 at one point in the set, but it was all Vanier after that with a 25-18 win to tie the game up at 2-2.
The fifth and final 15-point set was a wire-to-wire effort from the Warriors. F.H. Collins jumped ahead 3-0 and refused to give up the lead. The closest the Crusaders came to tying the set was when the team cut the Warriors lead to 8-6. From there, the Warriors won seven of the last nine points to win the final set 15-8.
Alex Schultz, player of the game for the Warriors, said his team’s belief was a key to the victory.
“Having confidence in ourselves,” said Schultz. “We were a little shaky at the beginning of the game, but after that we got used to the rotations and everything, we felt great.”
Player of the game for the Crusaders was Sam Wanless.
The Vanier Crusaders have no shortage of power, with players like Quinn Howard, Rylan Stoker and Wanless providing a relentless stream of hard-hit attacks. For Schultz and his seemingly boundless energy for blocking, it was the perfect opponent.
“I like the challenge. I like pushing myself to see how many blocks I can get, how much I can push myself to get the ball,” said Schultz. “I like to hustle a lot.”
Warriors coach Matt Taylor said his team knew what to expect with the high octane Crusaders.
“The biggest thing is to expect that they’re going to get big kills,” said Taylor. “They’re going to get big plays, and us as a team, we just have to realize that’s going to happen and let it happen. We’re going to get big plays too. As long as we can control their big plays to a minimum, we’ll be successful.”
Griffin Bisson, Super Volley most valuable player and Warriors setter, and Schultz combined to set the tone for the Warriors who truly looked unfazed for most of the game.
Despite the win, Taylor said his team will need to work on being able to score points when necessary if the Warriors to win at the Yukon Championships on Nov. 21 to 23.
“Luckily this is a five-set game and we were able to get thing back on track near the end,” said Taylor. “But in a three-set game, we won the first two sets but we lost two sets also. So in a three-set game, that’s a loss and a win.”
Unsurprisingly, Schultz said the focus will be defence.
“Lots of defence,” said Schultz. “We kind of struggled with that at the beginning of the season. We’re working on it more during our practices.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com