The home-court advantage was not enough for the FH Collins Warriors at the Super Volley semifinals on Thursday.
The Porter Creek Rams came out on top in two hard-fought battles against the Warriors, with the girls winning 10-25, 25-14, 25-16, 14-25, 15-12 and the boys 18-25, 25-12, 25-16, 25-23.
“It was so exciting,” said Rams senior girls middle Mariam Ott. “We’ve been working really hard and now we finally came through and it’s the best feeling – a feeling of accomplishment.”
A real seesaw match, the only closely contested set was the deciding fifth. Tied 11-11, the Rams moved out ahead on a missed Warriors serve followed by a service winner from Ott. The Rams inched closer when captain Kiana Palamar made a diving save to set up Courtney Greenway for the kill. Palamar then sent a spike off the Warriors’ blockers to win the match.
“It was almost like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde match,” said Warriors head coach Ken Kuni. “We had a good set, they had a couple good sets, we had a good set. Only the fifth was close, really. The other ones were so up and down.
“All the matches between the three schools have been close. On any given night it seems anyone can win.”
“It was all communication and pulling together as a team (in the fifth set),” said Ott. “That’s what we’ve been lacking so far: coming together as a team. As individuals we are talented, but as a team we’re so strong.”
Palamar and Warriors captain Dahria Beatty, both named Super Volley All-Stars the following night after the final, were also named Player of the Game for their teams.
“(Palamar) is such a leader. She sets for us – she’ll play any position we give to her,” said Ott.
“Both captains had good matches tonight,” said Kuni.
Warriors drop leads
It was a tough Super Volley season for the Warriors senior boys squad, not picking up a win. But with the Yukon championships this weekend, now is not the time to lose hope.
“There is still a lot of improvement happening, we’re getting closer, it’s just a little too late for Super Volley,” said Warriors head coach Shaun McLoughlin.
“That was the closest match we’ve had with Porter Creek or Vanier so far this year. We had the one-set lead and then in the fourth set, being that close to them – the matches in which we won a set, we haven’t been that close in another set.
“So it is progressing. Unfortunately, we took a two-set nap in the middle.”
The Warriors hit a hot steak in the fourth set, moving from 7-7 to up 15-8. However, the Rams eventually caught up at 21-21 soon after five consecutive points on the big serve of Josh Kelly.
“We played like we did in the first set; played a little slow, let the ball hit the floor too much,” said Rams captain Peter Hanson. “Then we stepped our game up. We wanted to win and did what we needed to do.”
The Rams reached match-point on a service winner from Hanson and captured the match on a missed kill attempt from the Warriors.
Named Player of the Game for the Rams was libero Rory Gibson.
“He was picking up everything; nothing was hitting the floor and he was playing really well,” said Hanson. “It was good for him. You don’t see too many liberos getting named Player of the Game.”
Receiving the corresponding honour for the Warriors was middle blocker Ryan Burke.
“He’s developed really well,” said McLoughlin. “He had a couple great hits and some great blocks out there … Before this year he hadn’t played middle before.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org