Two schools gobbled up all the medals at the Yukon Schools Athletics Association’s Grade 8 Volleyball Championships at Porter Creek Secondary on Saturday.
The F.H. Collins Warriors and the Vanier Crusaders - which were each split into two teams in both the boys and girls divisions - played each other in the two gold medal matches and bronze medal matches.
The Warriors “black team” defeated the Crusaders “blue team” 25-15, 25-18 in the girls final for gold.
“They were really focused. They really pulled it together,” said Warriors head coach Barbara Hinton. “Every single thing we practiced, they did in the clutch moments.”
“The girls worked really hard to be together as a team,” she added. “We focused on positive attitude and leadership. It’s not just about volleyball, it’s about supporting each other and I think they came a long way doing that. Even in the hallways they’re friends and support each other.”
The Warriors jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the final with Zoe Sage logging three kills in the opening points. They eventually reached set point on a crafty tip from Kiarra Fitzsimmons and took the set on an unreturned serve from Emily Nunez.
The Warriors had a tougher time pulling away from the Crusaders in the second but eventually established a seven-point lead at 19-12 on an ace from Sage.
F.H. Collins arrived at match point on a kill from Paige Poleman, who then fired in the game-winning serve for the title.
Poleman went on to be named tournament MVP, which she really wasn’t expecting.
“I didn’t know there was such a thing as an MVP award,” she said. “It was surprising for me.
“It was a fun time. I can’t wait for next year.”
“We were looking at playing ability as well as leadership and through the tournament she had a really positive attitude as well as playing strong,” said Hinton. “The other coaches noticed it as well. There were a lot of strong players, so it was a tough decision.”
The Warriors black team almost went undefeated at the championships. Their only loss came against Vanier’s blue team on Friday.
“Yesterday we had a lot of games, I think we had four before, and we were really tired by the end,” said Poleman. “And I don’t think we were that positive yesterday. We were kind of feeling down. We brought up the energy today.”
The Warriors gold team took bronze with a 25-20, 15-25, 15-9 win over the Vanier white team.
“We had 30 girls come out to tryouts and we ended up with about 26 core girls,” said Hinton. “Halfway through the season we switched it, so they’ve been playing as a team for the second half the season.”
In the same match up in the boys final, things went the other way.
The Vanier blue team nabbed gold with a 26-24, 25-9 win over the Warriors white team.
“They lost two matches in the tournament, but that was at the beginning and they built on that and every game they played they were stronger and stronger,” said Crusaders head coach Paula Stoker.
After a nail-biter first set that went into extra points, the Crusaders stormed away with the match in the second. Vanier’s blue squad won 10 straight points to go from 3-3 to 13-3 on a winning serve from Adam Hennings. They reached match point at 24-6 on a first-hit kill from Chris Farkas.
A few points later Andrew Reid put an ace down the line to seal the deal. Reid was named tournament MVP by his teammates.
“I was asked to give one and I said every player was an MVP to me because they all contributed through the whole tournament,” said Stoker. “I had a hard time picking an MVP so the team came together and chose one of our newest players. At the beginning of the season he couldn’t serve, he had a hard time passing, and he was the one who serve the final ace to win the gold medal match.
“So the team picked him as the MVP and I couldn’t be more proud. They’re amazing.”
Vanier attained set point in the first on a kill from Thomas Janzen, but the Warriors caught up at 24-24 on a shrewd tip from Austin Shaw. The Crusaders earned another set point on a serve from Farkas before the Warriors missed on an attack to end the first set.
“The boys put a lot of pressure on themselves and they lose focus of what’s important in the game,” said Warriors head coach Mattaeus Geisler. “They seem to turn a switch and are dwelling on what’s going wrong instead of focusing on moving forward and what they need to do. That was the big difference between the first set and the second set.”
F.H. Collins’ black team beat the Vanier white squad 25-16, 24-26, 15-8 for bronze.
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