Vanier teams reach Cougar Classic final, semis

The boys team lost in the finals, but just winning in the semis was enough of an accomplishment, said the team's coach.

The boys team lost in the finals, but just winning in the semis was enough of an accomplishment, said the team’s coach.

“But for us our tournament was complete, winning that semifinal match, because for our guys to beat a big school like that, in that kind of match, in their home court, was a real accomplishment,” said Crusader boys coach Russ Tait.

Over the weekend, two Vanier Catholic Secondary School Crusaders volleyball teams traveled to Red Deer, Alberta, to compete at the 31st annual Cougar Classic hosted by Notre Dame High School.

The 9/10 boys team made it all the way to the final and the senior girls team reached the semifinal.

The boys arrived in the finals with a three-set win over the hosting Notre Dame school in the semis, giving them their first loss of the season. In fact, Notre Dame had only lost one set all season before encountering the Crusaders.

“It was an epic match and a lot of fun,” said Tait. “It was quite an upset for us to beat them.”

The Crusaders took the match with a tight 16-14 win in the deciding set after eliminating two Notre Dame match points. For the win Crusader Michael Hunter served three successful points starting at 14-13 for Notre Dame and teammate Charlie Kedziora put down a big kill at match point to end the game.

“Albert Spiker really played well; Lowell Tait was setting and did an incredible job – our core starting six really stepped up in a big way,” said Tait.

In the final the Crusaders played Bev Facey High School from Sherwood Park, Alberta, narrowly losing 25-23, 25-23.

“We had a couple players with a head cold and they fought it out in the semifinal and come the final we were just out of gas,” said Tait. “It was tough because Charlie Kedziora, who was playing really well for us, just couldn’t play because his head was too plugged up.”

After losing in their first two Super Volley appearances this season – both in five-setters – the Crusaders girls senior team got their first wins out of the way, going 3-3 in the round robin section of the Cougar Classic.

Their .500 record after the round robin placed the girls team in the semifinals where they lost to Notre Dame’s girls team 25-22, 26-24.

“For me it was the best game of the tournament, by far, and probably one of the best games of the season we’ve played,” said Crusader girls coach Janna Tait.

“(Captain Melanie Tait) played well all weekend and proved how consistent she is and that the level when you’re a senior volleyball player,” said Janna.

“It was a huge weekend for my middle players (Jillian Pare and Brooke Nielsen) because they both figured out what was going on and started hitting and blocking.”

The Crusader teams also made a trip to Red Deer College to watch the college teams practice and had a chance to chat with some of the players, which Tait found useful for those considering playing volleyball beyond high school.

“It’s a real motivator for them to look to going on to play after high school potentially,” said Tait.

Both Crusader teams will be attending the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament this weekend in Dawson City.

“We have very talented girls on the team and my goal is to get them working together,” said Janna. “Once we can start doing that we’ll do really well.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re moving in the right direction.”

Contact Tom Patrick at

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