The setter is arguably the most important player on a volleyball team. To lose him to injury in the final set of a championship game is the worst possible time.
But despite losing setter Jordan Runions late in the game, the F.H. Collins Warriors prevailed to win the 11/12 boys final at the YSAA Yukon Volleyball Championships on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary.
The Warriors black team – one of two Warrior teams in the division – defeated the Vanier Crusaders 24-26, 25-17, 15-8 in the final.
“It’s always exciting when it goes to three (sets) … It can go to whichever team shows up to play,” said Warriors head coach Nathan Bingham.
“The boys found their groove. They worked really hard and began doing the little things right and it started to pay off. They started building momentum and then they relaxed and started playing good volleyball.”
Runions exited the game when he hurt his hip in a collision with a teammate as they chased an errant ball resulting from a spike from Crusaders’ Kyle Rubio. To better put the loss in perspective, Runions went on to be named championship MVP.
“It was a little alarming,” said Bingham. “I was worried for him and worried for the team.
“Malcolm Muir went in and stepped up. He’s one of our most all-around players … he was able to step in there and make sets at a clutch time to finish the game.”
Muir came in with his team leading 10-7 in the third. A few missed attacks from the Crusaders and a kill from captain Tim Schirmer gave the Warriors match point.
Warriors’ Brody Ryckman then slammed home a kill to end the match and help his school defend its senior boys title.
“It felt real good for some of us senior guys playing our last year of high school volleyball,” said Schirmer. “We just worked well as a team, worked hard and it paid off at the end.”
The fact it was going to be a tight match was clear early on as the two teams traded leads throughout the opening set. Vanier reached set point but lost it to a kill from Runions, making it 24-24. But following an over-the-net call against the Warriors, the Crusaders took it on a block from Frejean Pourier.
The loss of the first set was only the second one dropped by the Warriors at the championships, going undefeated in six matches.
Things were less close in the second as the Warriors took the lead for the last time on a kill from Luka van Randen at 15-14 and clinched the set on a kill from Skylar Bryant.
The Warriors, who placed last in Super Volley – the Whitehorse high school league – also went 2-3 at the George Elliot Senior Secondary School Invitational in Kelowna, B.C., the previous weekend.
“I think that helped them get tournament-playing experience and elevated their game,” said Bingham.
F.H. Collins had a chance at a second medal in the division. However, the Porter Creek Rams came away with bronze, topping the Warriors white team 25-20, 25-14 in the third place match.
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Zach Bartholomeus (Knights)
Daniel Moses (Crusaders)
Tim Schirmer (Warriors)
Chance Goodman (Rams)
Ansil Kumar (Warriors)
Angus Newell (Crusaders)
MVP Jordan Runions (Warriors)