The word “dynasty” doesn’t get used much when it comes to schools of about 75 students.
But few other words accurately describe what the Hidden Valley Elementary School’s Grade 7 girls volleyball team has established.
The Hidden Valley Huskies won their third consecutive Grade 7 girls title at the Yukon Elementary Volleyball Championships on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary School.
“For some strange reason, I have the most focused, dynamic, hardworking group of girls,” said Huskies co-head coach Peter Harms. “And each year they are just as strong as the year before.
“They are dead-on focused, serious all the time. It’s wonderful.”
The Huskies took the championship with a 25-23, 25-19 win over the Elijah Smith Eagles in the final.
After falling behind 23-20 in the opening set, the Huskies won five straight points, taking the set on a backwards, over-the-head bump from co-captain Indica Stewart.
Stewart, a Grade 7 player, was on the team for all three championship wins.
“It feels really good,” said Stewart. “When we were playing I was pretty chill because I was used to it.”
Stewart points to teamwork and friendship as the keys to the Huskies’ success.
“We’re all friends on the team,” she said.
After slipping behind at 11-9 in the second set, the Huskies took the lead for the final time on an ace from Adriana Smith. Smith later made a diving dig to help get match-point before Elese Duncan put in a well-placed serve to win the match.
“In some schools sports are optional. I say here they have to be mandatory because I don’t have enough kids,” said Harms. “Yesterday there were four kids who stayed behind with the teacher because the whole class comes to the volleyball tournament.”
Hidden Valley is such a small school, not only did the team have to bring Grade 6s up, there was even a Grade 5 player on the team.
“Iliana (Stehelin), the only Grade 5 (player), did really well for her age,” said Stewart. “She got some serves over the net and that was really impressive.”
“She came over, they treated her like a little sister and it was just wonderful to see,” said Harms. “She held her own. They help her out, they cheer her on. It’s just awesome to see a squad like this.”
The Holy Family Hurricanes took the bronze with a 25-24, 25-21 win over the Christ the King Elementary Wolverines.
Hurricanes spike their way to gold
The Holy Family Elementary’s Grade 7 boys didn’t just go undefeated in the championship, the team was undefeated in Whitehorse elementary school league during the season.
The Holy Family Hurricanes capped the perfect season with a 25-15, 25-12 straight-set win over the Selkirk Elementary Coyotes in the final.
“Last year all these kids played as Grade 6 players because I didn’t have any Grade 7 players,” said Hurricanes coach Ted Hupe. “We lost in the semis by two points and then we lost the bronze medal game medal by two points. So I knew I had contenders this year.”
The Hurricanes know the game. Unlike many of the teams at the championships, the Holy Family team plays with the customary three-hit formula – receive, set and spike.
“They were playing quality ball and I think it’s based on a couple of things,” said Hupe. “One: they have two years experience. Two: they are a very dedicated crew.
“This crew of kids wanted to come into the gym to practise every day. Every morning before school, they wanted to be in the gym. Any minute they had, they wanted to hit volleyballs.”
The Hurricanes got to match-point on back-to-back kills from Daniel Kim before Kaleb Pritchett caught the Coyotes with a tricky serve for the match.
“(Kim) has been playing for two years and his dad played volleyball in South Korea, so it’s genetic,” said Hupe.
In the battle for bronze the Whitehorse Elementary Wolves won 25-22, 25-15 over the St. Elias Eagles from Haines Junction. It was the Eagles best finish in years.
The Hidden Valley Huskies girls have another three-peat in their sights. The small school’s Grade 7 basketball team has won the Yukon championship the last two years as well.
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