The F.H. Collins Warriors beat the Porter Creek Rams 3-0 to win the 2019 Super Volley girls volleyball title

F.H. Collins Warriors player Paige Poelman attacks during the Super Volley girls final on Nov. 8 against the Porter Creek Rams at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse. The Warriors won the game 3-0 to win the 2019 Super Volley competition. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
F.H. Collins Warriors player Cassidy Cairns attacks during the Super Volley girls final against the Porter Creek Rams on Nov. 8 in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Iliana Stehelin of the Porter Creek Rams dives for a dig during the Super Volley girls final on Nov. 8 in Whitehorse. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)
Rams player Paityn Mountain looks for an opening in the Warriors defence on Nov. 8 during the Super Volley girls final. The F.H. Collins Warriors beat the Porter Creek Rams 3-0. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News)

The F.H. Collins Warriors defeated the Porter Creek Rams 3-0 in the 2019 Super Volley girls final on Nov. 8 at Porter Creek Secondary School in Whitehorse.

Heading into the game, the Warriors were well rested after finishing top of the table with a 3-1 record following the round-robin games. The Rams, on the other hand, beat the Vanier Crusaders a day earlier 3-1 to get to the final.

The first set of the final was a close affair, with both sides alternating points and some very long rallies.

Things got all the more intense near the end of the set with the Warriors up 23-22 and two points away from securing the set. After two more traded points made it 24-23, the Warriors were able to win the final point to take the set 25-23.

In the second set, the Warriors seemed to find a rhythm and the Rams appeared to show the effects of playing a four-set game the night before. The Warriors won the second set handily, 25-15.

Unfortunately for Porter Creek, things didn’t improve in the third set. Down 8-1, the Rams didn’t give up and managed to match the Warriors point for point to push the score to 18-10. From there it was all Warriors, as F.H. Collins won 25-10 to secure the 2019 Super Volley win.

The player of the game for the Rams was Olivia Blisner.

Emma Boyd, player of the game for the Warriors and Super Volley most valuable player, said the team had been focusing on certain aspects of the game in the lead up to the final.

“In our last couple practices we’ve been focusing on certain things, like serving to certain spots and hitting to certain spots and defensive coverage,” said Boyd. “I think that finally all came together in this game and it just really made the difference.”

Warriors head coach Natasha Bilodeau said her team showed what it’s capable of at the best of times.

“I think this team finally played to their potential in terms of all the players that can play really well played really well,” said Bilodeau. “I feel pretty good about that. It was a really easy game to coach, which is really nice.”

Bilodeau said the team has always had the ability, but hasn’t necessarily been firing on all cylinders.

“We practise a lot for exactly what happened out here tonight and this was a really good reflection of what we’ve been working on all year,” said Bilodeau. “They’ve been able to do it since the beginning of the year, but this is the first time I think they’ve actually really put it together and performed it for the team they’re playing against, which (is) a really talented group.”

The Rams style has largely focused on positioning and strong defence throughout the year. After the semifinal, Rams head coach Tayla McNally explained her squad was out to make the smart plays.

“I know we’re not really going to be the team that makes the kills every time, but we can do more smart plays,” McNally told the media at the time.

Bilodeau said the Warriors prepare the same way for all opponents, but that the placement of balls was a key against the Rams.

“One of the things we talked about specifically and we talked about at length after (the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament) and after the matches we’ve had with this team is to stop playing it to them,” said Bilodeau. “We were playing a lot of offensive balls to exactly where they were standing, which is just poor offence.”

Focus shifts to the upcoming Yukon Championships happening Nov. 21 to 23 at Porter Creek Secondary School.

The Warriors will be pushing for a sweep of the Yukon’s three major competitions, having already won the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament and Super Volley.

For Bilodeau, the messaging stays the same in the build up to the championships.

“We want to minimize the mistakes that we’re making and force our opponents to move,” said Bilodeau.

Boyd said team chemistry and teamwork will be a key factor in the continued success of the team.

“I think it’s more about us connecting as teammates,” said Boyd. “We have a very skilled group of girls — we have lots of skill, but we just haven’t come together as a team yet — so I think team bonding is going to have a big play in how we do at the Yukon Championships.”

Contact John Hopkins-Hill at john.hopkinshill@yukon-news.com

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