High school volleyball’s regular season wrapped up Friday at FH Collins Secondary with straight set wins in both the boys’ and girls’ divisions.
In the girls’ finals, Porter Creek Rams took the Super Volley title with a 25-21, 25-22, 25-13 win over the intrepid FHC Warriors.
On the boys’ side, the Vanier Crusaders fought off the increasingly hard-to-handle Warriors, 25-9, 25-20, 28-26.
As part of regular season competition the boys’ and girls’ All-Star teams were named, consisting of players from each of the Whitehorse high schools.
Named to the girls’ All-Star team were Emily Fedoriak and Jessica Borgford from Porter Creek, Rhiannon Jones and Sara Fabbio-Swizdaryk from FHC, as well as Melanie Tait and Kyah Parent from Vanier.
For the boys, Vanier’s Logan Gray and Kai Nielsen are joined by Riley Smith from Porter Creek. FH Collins contributed half the players named to the team, awarding the honour to Tony Ngyen, Afshin Armirtibar and Richard Fulop.
This weekend, the city will host the Yukon Championships that will feature junior and senior teams from Dawson City, Haines Junction and Whitehorse.
Rams defend title
A team can only overcome so many deficits. After fighting back to win from two sets down in the finals of the Dawson City Invitational and in the Super Volley semis, the Warriors failed to make it three in a row, losing against the defending champion Rams.
“I know they can (come back), but we weren’t thinking that at all,” said Rams’ libero, Chantelle Bergeron, who was named both the game’s and the season’s MVP. “We just wanted to play our game and do what we do best, and that’s take it.”
“I think we were tired from last night,” said Warriors coach Jennifer Norris, referring to the previous night’s semis. “Our energy was really flat tonight and we couldn’t find any reserves tonight that could have brought that energy up, and I think we used a lot of it up last night to come back in that game of five (sets).”
The first two sets were neck-and-neck, with the teams falling into an 18-18 tie in the opener and 20-20 in the second, before the Rams pulled away to capture them. However, the third became lopsided early on with Brittany Widrig plopping down an ace to put the Rams up 11-4 and then Fedoriak winning four points on her serve to bring the Rams to match-point at 24-11. Fedoriak eventually dealt the deathblow with a spike during the final rally.
“She’s turned into a great outside hitter,” said Rams coach Jordan Borgford, speaking of Fedoriak. “Lately we’ve had her play a little bit of middle, which is different for her, and she’s done well in that position too…
“Today the girls shined from beginning to end,” added Borgford. “They didn’t let up at all.”
Warriors pick up steam but fall in three
Had the Warriors taken the third set, which they were a point away from doing at 25-26, they very well might have taken the match, having increased their level of play in each of the three sets.
“We’ve got to figure out how to overcome these slow starts against Vanier,” said Warriors coach Al Foster. “It was the same thing in Dawson City too: we came out of the gate just lethargic.
“If we’re on, and our passing’s on, and our concentration level’s there, then it’s two very evenly matched teams,” he continued. “But their defence was really good.”
The Crusaders’ defence was best depicted by their blocks, which, at times, were comparable to a brick wall.
“We said at the beginning of the year … our team is a defensive team,” said Dwayne Stoker, coach of the Crusaders. “Everybody can block and I kind of mentioned it to them right at the start, it’s going to be our defensive play that determines a lot of games. And the offense will come around the same time.”
The Warriors took a 5-1 lead to start the third, but the Crusaders came back to tie the game 6-6 with some blocking by Logan Gray and a cross-court kill by Nielson to even the score.
After trading the lead a handful of times, the Crusaders got their first match point at 24-22, but failed to capitalize with Nielson putting a serve long and then Warriors’ Ngyen hitting a soft spike just inside the corner the following point to tie.
“Besides the five heart attacks that I had,” said Stoker when asked about the tense third set, “I was just trying to get them to stay focused, to calm down because it was getting really close — you could tell that the players were getting nervous…
“They don’t want to make the mistakes, so you start playing mind games with yourself, instead of just playing. That’s where experience comes in.”
After fighting off a set point, the Crusaders took the finals when the Warriors mishandled a serve from Crusaders captain Coty Fraser and were unable to keep the ball in play.
“We said to each other, ‘Calm down and let’s play it point-by-point,’” said Fraser, who was named the season’s MVP. “So that’s what we did, and we made some good passes — we played simple volleyball and that seemed to work.”
Contact Tom Patrick at email@example.com