Friday’s senior boys’ volleyball game was a serving of “humble pie,” according to Porter Creek Rams coach Sukh Sandhu.
Going unbeaten last season and winning their first two games this season, it had been a while since the Rams (2-1) saw an ‘L’ next to their name on the schedule.
However, as all things must come to an end, so did the Rams’ winning streak, losing 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 to the FH Collins Warriors (2-1) Friday at FHC.
“They’re playing with fire,” said Sandhu of his team. “There’s been a lot of bad habits in practices too … simple things with passing, team stuff, just what they should be doing in between plays: talk, communication.
“They’re very talented, but they show their immaturity (by) feeling sorry for themselves once momentum starts to swing the other way,” he added.
“It’s a huge problem.”
In the second set, the Rams managed to accumulate a nine-point lead at 14-5, but eventually lost it as the Warriors fought back to tie the game 18-18.
With long-term goals in mind, the Warrior coaches decided to leave the players on the court despite the growing point spread, in the hopes of toughing up their mental game.
“Let’s let these guys prove it to themselves,” said Warriors co-head coach Nathan Bingham. “They just have to turn it around, and they did…
“I could have pulled one of those kids out and put another in, and you can second-guess what might have happened,” continued Bingham. “What did happen is that the starters climbed back into it and won the game.”
At set-point, Warriors’ Harrison Ewing, who unleashed a kill to end the first set, repeated the task, nailing a kill so deep in the court that the Rams celebrated it as out long before the linesman set them straight.
“Volleyball is a game of momentum and momentum shifts,” said Nathan. “They got a good team, good fundamentals, but I think our teams just showed a sign of real mental maturity.”
Rams won the season opener against the Warriors in a tight five-setter that easily could have gone either way.
“We were missing two of our starting power-hitters, Richard Fulop and Nathan Wallace,” said Bingham. “When you have your full arsenal, it’s a big difference.”
Warriors’ Afshin Armirtibar and Rams’ Derek Wilson were named the players of the game.
“He’s a very mature player, he’s the type of guy who doesn’t miss one practice,” said Bingham of Armirtibar. “He’s played every club season that’s been available to him, so he brings a lot of stability to the team.
“And he’s a bit cerebral; he doesn’t jump up and down or yell into the net and stuff … he’s just a quiet operator.”
With the Vanier boys’ team competing in a tournament in Calgary, the Rams and Warriors faced off in an exhibition game the previous night, which the Rams won in five sets.
“We had an exhibition match last night to make sure Vanier isn’t getting too many games ahead of us,” said Bingham with a chuckle.
“As it was exhibition, we had the whole bench out — we’ve got to look for chances to have those guys play,” he added, referring to his non starting lines.
Both the boys’ and girls’ games were supposed to take place at Porter Creek Secondary, but were moved to FH Collins at the last minute because the gym was double booked.
“It’s unfortunate because our kids play very rarely at Porter Creek,” said Sandhu. “That sucked for them really bad because they wait to be seniors and get their chance, and now they don’t get to play at home.”
Undefeated Rams take second win from Warriors
This time around, things were less balanced.
After losing to the undefeated Porter Creek Rams (3-0) in a close four-setter to start the season, the FH Collins senior girls’ Warriors (1-2) had even less success Friday, losing to the Rams 25-19, 25-17, 25-12 at FH Collins.
According to Rams coach Jordan Borgford, passing made all the difference.
“In that last game we played them we weren’t passing very well,” said Borgford of the first encounter. “Today we passed a lot better.”
However, on the other side of the net opinions were quite asymmetrical.
“Our passing was absolutely atrocious this time,” said Warriors coach Jennifer Norris. “The passing just wasn’t there, and you can’t do anything if you don’t have anything for the setters to do with. She had to keep coming up to the net to play balls, there were no hitters and that was the key.”
“Their passing was outstanding,” she added, referring to the Rams. “Our passing was not what it should have been.”
Much of the Rams’ passing success can be credited to Chantelle Bergeron, who played barrel for the Rams and was named player of the game.
“It’s usually your best passer,” said Borgford, of Bergeron’s position, which confines her to the back row on the court. “You have a little more continuity with somebody who’s always (playing barrel) — that’s their role: to pass. So generally they should be taking 60 to 70 per cent of every ball that comes over the net.”
The Rams were coming off a straight set win over the Vanier Crusaders the previous night, 25-21, 25-19, 25-19.
“Yesterday was a better game for me (against Vanier), but this was pretty good,” said Bergeron.
“If we get down on ourselves, we’re really good at picking ourselves back up, getting our energy back up,” said Bergeron of her team. “Energy and talking are the two most important things when playing a game.”
In each of the sets the Rams took a lead early on and held on to it until the set was theirs.