The Vanier Crusaders junior boys used a bitter loss in one final as motivation in another last weekend.
With what they felt was a lackluster performance in the final of the Dawson Invitational fresh in their memory, the Crusaders used it as fuel to win the 9/10 boys final at the YSAA Yukon Volleyball Championships at Porter Creek Secondary on Saturday.
“It was a little bit of payback because we didn’t play too well in the final (in Dawson),” said Crusaders head coach Dwayne Stoker. “They used that as fuel in the championship here.
“It wasn’t easy; we had tough games throughout. Especially with our semifinal against Porter Creek – it took three (sets) and we ended up just squeaking by in that one. It could have gone either way.”
The Crusaders took gold with a 22-25, 25-21, 15-4 win over the F.H. Collins Warriors – the team that topped them in the Dawson final.
“We’re all feeling great because we lost in Dawson, so we used that as fuel for our comeback,” said Crusaders captain Daniel Kim.
“Everyone did well. Everyone made some mistakes, but we all cheered each other up and came together as one.”
The Warriors took the lead in the first set 15-14 and eventually went up 23-19 on a dig from Jackie Lam that went over and found a gap. They then got to set point on a service winner from Austin Hayduck. Vanier’s Aidan Stoker staved off the loss with an ace but the team then dropped the set on a missed attack.
Their coach gave a pep talk to get them back on track in the break.
“I tried to get them to focus and play the game that they can play and not get caught up in the cheering or non-calls or whatever,” said Dwayne. “The key to volleyball is getting the momentum. So if you can get momentum to your side and not worry about the score, it’ll happen. That’s what we wanted to do: fight back and try to get momentum on our side.”
Following a pair of violations against the Warriors, Crusaders’ Derek Hennings put up a block for the set.
Vanier then went on a five-point run on the serve of Henning to take a 6-1 lead in the third. The Crusaders moved to match point at 14-3 on a kill from Carl Knickle. They captured the match on a quick back-row shot from David Mindanao, catching the Warriors in transition from offence to defence.
“(In the third set) everybody started playing better – playing better defence,” said Dwayne. “Everybody stepped up. Carl (Knickle) really stepped up for us and here we are.
“They worked hard all year. They came up short in Dawson, but they were motivated. They wanted to prove they could play.”
The hosting Porter Creek Rams pocketed the bronze with few points to spare, beating Dawson’s Robert Service School Knights 25-23, 25-23 in the game for third.
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