The goal of every Yukon volleyball team is to peak at the season-ending territorial championships. Everything else - the Dawson invitational, the Whitehorse league - is just preparation.
The F.H. Collins Warriors junior girls team achieved that goal.
The Warriors went undefeated at the Yukon Volleyball Championships, beating the Porter Creek Rams in Saturday’s final at F.H. Collins Secondary.
The Rams won the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament, in which the Warriors didn’t even make the final.
“It’s a little bit unexpected because we didn’t know what to expect coming into the tournament,” said Warriors head coach Peter Grundmanis. “All year long we’ve had 17 or 18 players, so in other tournaments and games we had different combinations of them ... So the lineup for this tournament, we never had before.
“After the first game, they played really well, and they just kept rolling.”
The Warriors took the junior girls title and their fifth straight victory at the championship with a 25-16, 24-26, 15-9 win over the Rams.
The final was nearly a two-set affair. The Rams dispatched two match points for the Warriors to push the final to a third and deciding set.
The Warriors reached match point at 24-22 on a kill from Maggie Brooks. However, a kill from Rams’ Kaitlin Organ, followed by three unreturned serves from Thea Carey, set the score at a set apiece.
“I thought they did great, they worked their hardest, they played point for point, they fought the entire game,” said Rams co-head coach Brittany Milner. “They are an awesome group of girls. They are amazing.”
“Porter Creek played clutch at the end (of the second) and error-free ball, and made life a little more exciting for us,” said Grundmanis.
Seemingly unfazed by the second-set comeback by the Rams, the Warriors came out hard in the third, going up 4-0 on a block from setter Alice Frost. Frost also made a block at match point for the win.
During the third set, Warriors power Jayden Demchuk hit three consecutive kills and a few points later registered an ace to put her team up 12-5.
Demchuk, who is in Grade 9, was named Tournament MVP.
“I was really excited about that,” said Demchuk. “All the hard work really paid off.
“I know our setter Alice (Frost) did a great job playing, and she definitely set me up with some really good balls.”
“Jayden just brings so much to the court,” said Grundmanis. “Everyone gets excited when she hits the big kill and she really does do that. But she brings so much more to the court including her leadership, her passing and her defence. She really is such an outstanding player at such an early age.”
The Warriors advanced to the final with a win over Dawson City’s Robert Service School Knights, who went on to take the bronze with a three-set win over the Vanier Crusaders.
“It’s a great way to end off the season and I think our team did super good with all our energy,” added Demchuk.
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