The F.H. Collins Warriors faced an uphill battle on Saturday.
To win gold, they needed to top the two teams that had beaten them so far at the Pepsi Yukon Grade 8 Volleyball Championships.
It was not an unwinnable challenge, as they showed.
“I think we did really well and we came together as a team in the end a lot more than in the previous games,” said Warriors captain Emily Johnson. “We fought really hard to get gold. We feel great.”
After losing in three sets to the Porter Creek Rams 2 team in the round robin, the F.H. Collins Warriors 1 team answered back with a 25-21, 23-25, 15-12 win in the final at Porter Creek Secondary School.
The Warriors 1 team reached the final with a win over the Vanier Crusaders, who they also lost a three-setter to in the round robin.
“We always kept positive,” said Johnson. “Even when we were losing we kept that energy up and we worked really good together as a team.”
Both teams were just points away from victory in Saturday’s final. Tied 12-12 in the third set, Warriors’ Tugugin Swan put in an unreturned serve before teammate Kate Storey produced match point, bumping the ball into a gap in the Crusaders defence.
Warriors’ Dana Sellars then slapped a kill down the middle for the title.
“We came up against a very tough team – great athletes on that F.H. team,” said Rams head coach Daniel Bisson, who shared coaching duties with senior Rams player Hannah Milner. “A bunch of nice kids too. So it’s always nice to play against nice kids. They worked just as hard as we did.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum and they got the momentum at the right time.”
The Rams took the second set with kills from Caroline Freemantle and Kendra Peters in the final points. Down by two midway through, the Rams tied it on a service winner and then a diving dig from Sarah Hardie, who was named tournament MVP.
“Determination. She just doesn’t give up on a play,” said Bisson. “She definitely has skill. She was very positive and was a really great leader this weekend, and that’s all you’re hoping to develop in a player.”
The Grade 8 girls championship was a close one. After the round robin the Warrior champs, both Porter Creek teams and the Crusaders each had four wins. The other F.H. Collins team – the Warriors 2 – and Dawson’s Robert Service Knights had one win, while the Teslin School team had three.
“The tournament was so close,” said Warriors head coach Rob McGurk. “I was saying to the girls, ‘Winners win, but champions dominate,’ and there was no domination throughout this tournament. They were close games.
“I just want to congratulate the other teams – the Porter Creek team, the Vanier team, the Dawson team, the Teslin team – for their participation and their efforts. It was close all the way through.”
The Porter Creek Rams 1 team defeated the Vanier Crusaders 25-19, 26-24 for the bronze medal.
Contact Tom Patrick at