The F.H. Collins Warriors Grade 8 boys not only went undefeated at the Pepsi Yukon Volleyball Championships last week, they didn’t drop a set the entire championship.
The Warriors clinched the gold with a 25-15, 25-10 win over the Vanier Crusaders in the final on Saturday at Porter Creek Secondary School.
Emphasizing the importance of fundamentals was key to the team’s success, said Warriors head coach Al Foster.
“What I’ve been working on with these guys from day one is skills,” said Foster. “At this early stage of their progression as players, you have to get the basics down. A lot of kids at this stage will try to do too much – they’ll try to do jump serves or run plays. It just gets down to three solid touches and you’re good.
“They just used their skill level. We played some teams that maybe had more athletic kids, but the skill and keeping it basic worked for us.”
The Warriors got to set-point in the opening set on a well-placed bump from Jordan Runions before the Crusaders missed a serve to end the set.
RELATED:See slideshow of the tournament.
The F.H. Collins team won four straight points to finish the match. Akshay Malhotra smacked a kill to make it 22-10, Skyler Bryant won a point with a block for 23-10, and Bryant then put over a strong serve for match-point.
Malhotra then whacked a first-hit kill for the match. He was later named tournament MVP in the boys division.
“He’s a presence out there,” said Foster. “He’s just physically strong and couple that with his skill level and he’s a leader out there. The kids feed off of him. Whenever he does something that’s strong and powerful, the kids feed off of it and rally around it.”
The Porter Creek Rams finished the championship with the bronze medal.
“What I really like at the end of the day is that my boys are all gentlemen,” said Foster. “They cheer just as much for the other team a lot of the time as they do for themselves. That makes me really proud.”
Rams overcome deficits for gold
The Porter Creek Rams A team doesn’t give up easily.
Twice in a row the team came back from a set down en route to winning gold in the Grade 8 girls division at the championship.
The Rams took gold with a 10-25, 25-11, 15-11 win over the F.H. Collins Warriors in the final.
“We played a lot of volleyball yesterday, late into the night, and the kids looked a little tired this morning and a little stressed,” said Rams head coach Daniel Bisson. “But once they got warmed up, things turned around.”
The Rams had reason to be tired. They finished the semifinal at 8 p.m. Friday and were back on court at 8 a.m. Saturday for the final.
In the semifinal, the Rams came back from a set down to defeat Teslin.
“Teslin played super well and we were lucky to come out on top there,” said Bisson.
Porter Creek’s Thea Carey was named tournament MVP.
“Thea Carey really stood out,” said Bisson. “She carried the team. But we also had a couple of girls who played through some pretty serious injuries.
“It’s hard not to mention Line Jensen, who blew out her knee and played anyway, Mia Greenough, who had surgery last week and played through this week. Kate Gallager, who had a sprained wrist – they’re all on the same team and they all happened to get hurt this week.”
The Grade 8 division also included teams from Mayo, Carmacks, Haines Junction and Dawson City.
The Teslin school’s team, made up from players in Grades 5 to 8, won the bronze with a win over Ecole Emilie Tremblay.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org