Rams prevent Crusader sweep in Klondike

After the Vanier Crusaders and the FH Collins Warriors captured all the girls' titles at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament the last two years, the drought came to an end in the senior division, defeating the Crusaders 25-12, 26-24 for the title.

DAWSON CITY

It has been a long-time coming for a few veteran Porter Creek Rams on Saturday in Dawson.

After the Vanier Crusaders and the FH Collins Warriors captured all the girls’ titles at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament the last two years, the drought came to an end in the senior division, defeating the Crusaders 25-12, 26-24 for the title.

“This is my third year in Dawson (for the tournament) and every year we make it to the finals and lose to Vanier (or the Warriors in 2008), so this is a great win for us,” said Grade 11 Ram Kiana Palamar. “This is my first year playing libero and I feel very comfortable playing it and we have a great group of girls out there – I was definitely very excited when we won.”

The Rams’ win in the final prevented a Crusader sweep of the tourney, like the school completed in 2009, with both junior titles and the boys’ senior title falling to Vanier crews.

“I thought we came out in the first set and played real well – Vanier was a little tentative,” said Rams head coach Jordan Borgford. “In the second set, I think that’s the best (the Rams) have played. It showed them that they can play some volleyball a little more than they have this season.

“They really started capitalizing on their offence.”

Despite the lopsided first set, the final ended as a nail-biter. Tied 23-23, Crusader Erika New put a wobbly kill off the net-tape, to give her team set-point. However, Rams captain Erin Borgford knocked a kills to tie and, after a wide spike from Crusader Terri Publicover, put a spike off a blocker for the title.

“She’s a great player and an awesome girl to hang-out with,” said Palamar of Erin Borgford. “She makes probably 50 per cent of our points just on her kills. She’s a great server, a great passer and overall great player.”

The Rams, who are undefeated in the Whitehorse Super Volley series after two games this season, took the opening set on an eight-point run on the serve of Em Nugent, who ended it with an ace.

According head coach Natasha Bilodeau, the Crusaders performed well but will need to strengthen their mental game to have success in the Yukon Championships.

“I feel like the girls played really well, I don’t think the score was a great reflection of how they played,” said Bilodeau. “I just said to them that we have moments where we mentally collapse a couple points at a time, they’re resilient and they come back, but we’re always fighting a bit of a deficit. So if we can conquer our little mental collapses, I think we will be quite successful.

“We are our own worst enemy.”

With just the three Whitehorse high schools competing in the senior girls’ division, the Rams captured a bye to the final, dropping only one set during the tournament’s round-robin. To reach the finals, the Crusaders downed the FH Collins Warriors, who finished the round-robin in second.

“We have a lot of great passers on our team, so everyone stands out that way,” said Bilodeau. “The team has a lot of depth, so if someone is struggling we always have somebody equally as strong on the bench that can step in for them.”

View slideshow here.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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