The fourth time was the charm for the Flying French Fries — the Fourth annual Big Thaw Volleyball Tournament that is.
The group of Whitehorse francophones beat Juneau’s Humulus Lupulus in the final on Saturday afternoon at Vanier in three close games.
The Juneau squad took the first game, 25-23, after that the French Fries took over, winning back-to-back 25-21, 15-12.
Humulus was undefeated up to that point, and hadn’t even dropped a game heading into the final, after beating Takhini Gas in the semis, and outscoring all their opponents 200-100 during the round-robin.
“When you’re facing a team that’s undefeated, you don’t expect too much,” said Fries’ captain Alain Desrochers, holding the diminutive Big Thaw Cup.
“The real reason we won is that we have a lot of character,” he laughed. “Seriously though, we communicated well, and we have two strong girls on our team, that can hit hard.”
The French Fries have come close before.
“We lost in the finals in the first and second year, so it feels great to win it,” said Desrochers.
Strong teams like Ram Tough, Takhini Gas and Humulus Lupulus all had a real shot at winning the tournament.
“It’s amazing how many great volleyball players come out of the woodwork,” said Volleyball Yukon vice-president and tournament organizer Al Foster.
Eleven teams competed in the coed tournament, and some squads had just enough players, like both teams in the final, while other teams like Ram Tough had a fairly deep bench to draw on.
In previous years, the Big Thaw was the last of three volleyball tournaments over the winter, but Foster said that one tournament a year is enough, along with the regular drop-in volleyball.
“People are so busy with other things, there’s always so much going on.”
Even without regular competition, however, Yukon’s recreational players looked pretty strong.
Only the Juneau players came into the tournament with some honed skills.
“We’ve got a pretty good recreational league in Juneau, I think there’s 60 teams or so,” said Humulus Lupulus captain Chris Brown. “Of those, four or five are really strong.”
The Alaskans have competed at the Big Thaw three times, and finished second every time.
“It’s a great tournament, we love coming up here,” said Brown.
“It really makes you think, how good would we be if we played regularly?” said Foster, as he stretched his arm across his chest. “But, my shoulder tells me I probably shouldn’t be playing regularly!”