A very tired Dawson team gave it all they had at the Pepsi Yukon Volleyball Championships on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary School.
In the end, the F.H. Collins Warriors, with their much deeper bench, took the Grade 9/10 boys title with a 25-20, 25-14 win over Dawson’s Robert Service School Knights in the final.
The Knights had seven players to the Warriors’ 13.
“It was a long tournament and I have a really big bench with 13 kids on the bench, so it was helpful that I could play them and give people a rest,” said Warriors head coach Peter Grundmanis. “In the end I think it made a big difference because we were a little fresher.”
RELATED:See slideshow of the tournament.
“Seven round-robin games is a lot to go through for a small team when (the other teams) have 12 players or whatever they had,” said Knights head coach Charlie Taylor. “It was just an all-around fun weekend and I’m proud of these guys for everything they’ve done here this weekend.”
The Knights looked like they could pull off the upset early in the match. They led for most of the opening set before the Warriors caught up at 15-15. It went back and forth until Warriors middle Max Clark registered a kill to give his team a 21-20 lead. Warriors’ Marcus Deuling put in a kill for set-point before Tristan Sparks blocked Dawson’s Galen Clarke for the set.
“They played really well,” said Grundmanis. “We tried to build our consistency, getting our offence delivered the way it’s designed to go and they put it all together in the final game.”
The Warriors, who were undefeated at the championship and won their division at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament in October, led for all of the second set. They reached match-point on a kill from Clark before Dawson put a serve in the net to end it.
Clark went on to receive the tournament MVP award.
“I spoke to him earlier and I encouraged him to step-up his game a little bit because he could be a dominant player for a long time,” said Grundmanis. “He’s really picked it up since the tournament in Dawson and has been hitting with authority and confidence. He really did well and deserved the MVP.”
The Knights came within a whisker of losing in the semifinal. Playing the Vanier Crusaders and facing three match-points at 14-11, the Knights escaped defeat by winning five consecutive points.
“We just battled really hard every game,” said Taylor. “Every time we were up against Vanier and F.H. (Collins) in the round-robin, we went to three sets. And every time it went to three sets, it was battles for every point.”
The Vanier Crusaders took the bronze with a win over Porter Creek Rams’ Black team.
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