Rams, Warriors shine at UBC Invitational

Both Yukon volleyball teams lost an important player to injury during the tournament, but still produced results.

Both Yukon volleyball teams lost an important player to injury during the tournament, but still produced results.

Competing at the 45th annual UBC Invitational in Vancouver at the end of last week and over the weekend, the FH Collins Warriors and the Porter Creek Rams senior high school volleyball teams came home with wins and notable accomplishments.

After going 3-1 in their round robin pool to advance into the round of 16, the Rams finished 13th overall out of 40 teams.

In the round of 16, a win away from the quarters, the Rams lost to the eventual champions, Lord Selkirk High School from Manitoba. Although defeated, the Rams became the only team in the tournament to take a set off Selkirk, losing 24-26, 25-13, 15-11.

“They’re one of the top high school teams in Canada, and their head coach is the winning coach of the 2005 Canada Summer Games for Team Manitoba,” said Rams head coach Sukh Sandhu.

“That’s the best volleyball we’ve ever played as a group. (Rams) Derrik Anderson, Robin Smith and Riley Smith played at the top of their age category in the country.”

In the match, the Rams lost middle blocker Luke McDougall to a shoulder injury, which may have changed the course of the match, said Sandhu.

“Luke hurt his shoulder badly, and we didn’t another middle-blocker because we lost Derek Wilson at the beginning of the year,” said Sandhu. “If that didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be shocked if found our way to some medals.”

For his prowess at the net, Anderson, a power hitter for the Rams, was awarded one of two honourable mentions for the all-star team.

“There’s a number of college teams that are interested in him,” said Sandhu. “He was phenomenal.”

The Warriors did not make it to the round of 16, but did win the Flight D, beating the Gladstone Secondary Warriors in the final. After some verbal jabs from Gladstone players during the warm up, the FH cruised to a 25-19, 25-21 victory against the same team that ousted the them from the quarterfinals last year.

“They were verbally jousting with us; every time one of our guys hit one in warm-up they were like, ‘I can block that,’ or ‘I can dig that,’” said Foster. “They were cocky and trying to get into our heads.”

The win is more significant since the Warriors were without middle Tanner Coyne, who went down with an ankle injury and was replaced by Joaquin McWatters.

“He was in real distress; he was on the court in a lot of pain,” said Foster of Coyne. “Tanner has got to be close to six-foot, four-inches now and I had to replace him with a player that’s about five-foot, seven, so that’s an interesting size difference.

“But Joaquin played his heart out. He was diving for balls – he wasn’t hitting balls straight down but he was hitting corners. He took the challenge and did a remarkable job.”

The Warriors were placed in the Flight D playoffs after going 1-3 in the opening round robin, getting their win against Vancouver’s Windermere Secondary 25-18, 25-22 – coincidently, also called the Warriors.

“We could have played a lot better in the round robin,” said Foster. “It took us a little while to play together as a team and play our game.

“We’re not sure if it was nerves or if it was a case of being tired, because it was a trip out (there). But it took a while for us to get our legs underneath us.”

However, it was the playoffs after the round robin where the Warriors, “turned things around,” said Foster. “It finally felt like us.”

Advancing to the D Flight finals without dropping a set, the Warriors thrashed Vancouver’s McRoberts Secondary 25-6, 25-16 and comfortably surpassing Vancouver’s Templeton Secondary 25-22, 25-11.

Warriors captain Richard Fulop, was awarded MVP for the D division.

“I told him this after the (Gladstone) game: ‘You took this team and you put it squarely on your shoulders,’ cause he just started pounding balls,” said Foster. “No matter how many blocks they’d put up, they just did have an answer for him.”

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