Warriors win all but one title at Dawson invitational

The Warriors went on the warpath at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament over the weekend. 

The Warriors went on the warpath at the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament over the weekend.

The F.H. Collins Warriors made all four finals and won three out of four titles at the 37th annual tournament in Dawson City.

The senior girls title was the one that got away. The Vanier Crusaders prevented the Warriors sweep, defeating the Warriors in two sets in the final.

Of the three Warrior wins, the one in senior boys is perhaps the most surprising. The Warriors placed third behind Vanier and Porter Creek in boys Super Volley – the Whitehorse high school league – a couple weeks ago.

The team was then split in two for Dawson. There was the White Team and the Black Team – or the A Team and B Team, depending on who you ask.

The White Team (a.k.a. B Team) won the title.

“They refer to themselves as the B Team,” said Warriors head coach Nathan Bingham. “I guess for a while they considered themselves to be the underdogs.

“The Black Team had some of the stronger players in the pool play. The starters on the Black Team really dominated each of their sets in the tournament. The White Team, their sets were a lot closer.”

The White Team squeezed into the playoffs in fourth place after the round robin while the Black squad cruised in in first place.

White then beat the Black Team in the semi and the Porter Creek Rams in the final – both ended in straight sets.

“I think the guys on the White Team were more hungry for it. They had something to prove and they battled harder for it and they got it,” said Bingham.

“Sam Finton and James Russell were blocking really well,” he added of the final. “They did a great job at shutting down PC’s middles. Their captain for the team, Logan Harris, was really consistent putting away the high-ball sets for the team. Porter Creek had a hard time stopping him because he’s agile in the air.”

The F.H. Collins junior girls sent the Rams packing twice in a row. The Warriors beat a Porter Creek team in the semifinal and then downed another in the final in two sets.

The F.H. crew had to string together three straight wins for the title. It wasn’t easy and by the time the team reached the final, they were “battle hardened,” said Warriors head coach Peter Grundmanis.

“I think one of the reasons why we were able to play well in the final is that we had two really intense matches before that that we had to win just to get into the playoffs. All the teams were so evenly matched they were splitting with each other. With one match to go we had to win just to get into the playoffs.”

The hosting Dawson team, the Robert Service School Knights, had a good run. They placed first after the round robin, but lost to Porter Creek in the semifinal.

“Emily Muir was a real clutch hitter for us in the final,” added Grundmanis. “She just didn’t make any mistakes.”

When all the chips were on the table, F.H. Collins’ junior boys got the job done. The Warrior weren’t turning heads in the round robin, finishing third, but in the playoffs they won four straight sets for the title.

They downed the Rams in two in the semi and the Crusaders in two in the final.

“Porter Creek beat us in two sets early on and Vanier beat us in one set early on, but we went through both those guys in the elimination games,” said Warriors head coach Andrew Craigen. “My guys focused hard and got better throughout the tournament and played well when it counted. It was exciting. Dawson is always a fun environment.”

Despite his team’s smooth run in the playoffs in Dawson, the Yukon championships is still anyone’s to win, said Craigen.

“I’d say it’s pretty wide open heading into the Yukon championships,” he said. “PC played the best they’ve played all year up in Dawson and they’ll be hungry to go. Vanier always has a good chance with their school spirit and their coaching staff over there, so it’s definitely going to be a good tournament over there next weekend.”

Vanier didn’t win a single division at last year’s Dawson tournament, but the Crusaders senior girls got one this year and prevented a Warriors sweep.

The Crusaders, who won the Super Volley title the previous week, will now attempt the Triple Crown win a third title at the Yukon Volleyball Championships in a week.

“Because they won Super Volley they were hunted right away. Everyone wants to beat them now,” said Vanier coach Dwayne Stoker, who was filling in for head coach Amanda Bartle. “But they held their composure and they played well, played smart ball.”

Vanier’s senior girls finished first in the round robin, defeated the Dawson Knights in the semifinal and then the Warriors in straight sets in the final.

It was the first time the Crusaders won the division since 2011.

“It was a fun weekend, I think everyone enjoyed it,” said Stoker. “All the teams had a lot of fun and everyone is looking forward to the championships coming up in two weeks.”

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