In the longest set of the Super Volley season, it took six set-points for the Porter Creek Rams to tie the match before winning the following two to capture the boys’ Super Volley title Friday at Vanier Catholic Secondary.
Playing the Vanier Crusaders in the final, the top-seeded Rams pulled off a 19-25, 31-29, 25-23, 25-22 win, toppling the Dawson Invitational champs.
“Thirty-one points is pretty rare – I’ve never gone higher than that,” said Rams captain Robin Smith. “Everyone is trying to go hard but everyone wants to play safe – you don’t want to make it easy for them.”
Three of the six set-points were made available with kills from Smith, who registered 25 in the match and was named MVP for the Super Volley season, but the set was finally ended by Ram Peter Hanson blocking a spike from Crusader Thomas Mills.
“We kind of had to wake up after the first set,” said Smith. “They played well and forced us into errors we don’t usually make and that’s what cost us.”
Like with the girls’ division, this weekend’s Yukon Championships will be the last chance for the Rams and the Crusaders to establish themselves as the dominant team. Not only did the Crusaders take the Dawson tourney while the Rams now captured the Super Volley title, the two teams split their regular season games – both in five-setters. The Rams were given the top seed, and a bye to Friday’s finals, narrowly outscoring the Crusaders 203-201 in their two regular season games.
“We’re an older team, but technically we have less experience,” said Smith. “Most of our players are in their first or second year, where (the Crusaders) have been training together since Grade 8. So it’s a pretty big accomplishment to beat them.”
The younger Crusaders, with captain Henry Kedziora being the only Grade 12 player, will have their work cut out for them this weekend, losing their starting setter, Lowell Tait, to a fracture in his hand suffered during the second set of Friday’s finals. Although Tait toughed it out when all the chips were on the table in the fourth set, now with a cast from his elbow down to his hand, he will be benched for the championships. It will be up to second-string setters Kaylen Slough and Mason Gray to act as the lynchpins between the Crusaders’ defence and offence.
“We had a great first set and we were rolling along and then he hurt his hand in the second set,” said Crusaders head coach Russ Tait. “It changes the whole dynamic.
“But credit to Kaylen (Slough) – he’s our second setter – he came in and kept us close there, but it’s not the same.”
The Crusaders advanced to the finals with a solid 25-10, 25-16, 25-12 victory over the FH Collins Warriors on Thursday.
If there was a point where the Warriors could have turned the game around, it was a 6-4 lead in the second set. But three straight kills from Crusaders’ Player of the Game, Michael Hunter, starting a 10-point run, quickly put his team back in the driver’s seat.
“He always plays well,” said Crusaders middle Albert Spycher of Hunter, who had 17 kills in Friday’s final. “He can put the ball down and all that stuff.”
The loss for the Warriors was an unwelcome milestone for the team, now having gone the entire Super Volley season without a win.
With so many players balancing volleyball with other sports, rest is going to be important as the team looks to the Yukon Championships, said head coach Shaun McLoughlin.
“We’re going to work on rest and our positions on the court,” he said. “And maybe a few other things to get them to be a little more aware of what’s happening on the other side of the net while they have the ball.
“That and rest. We have some tired bodies. I think every player on our team is a multi-sport athlete.”
Super Volley All-Star team
Jeremy Mann (Rams)
Brad Gustafson (Rams)
Henry Kedziora (Crusaders)
Michael Hunter (Crusaders)
Charlie Kedziora (Crusaders)
Tanner Coyne (Warriors)
MVP Robin Smith (Rams)
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org