All three of Whitehorse’s high schools won bragging rights after last weekend’s 30th annual Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament.
However, FH Collins has more to brag about, having taken two first-place honours, winning in both the 9/10 and 11/12 girls’ divisions.
The Porter Creek Rams finished first in the boys’ 9/10 division while the Vanier Crusaders filled the top spot in the 11/12 boys’ competition.
Featuring teams from every territorial high school, the first two days of competition consisted of round robin play, giving all teams a chance to size each other up.
During the round robin, matches were made up of two sets — even if the teams split the sets. After two days, set-wins were totaled to determine who advanced to the semifinals.
When there were ties, and there were several, round robin scores were added together and the points against were subtracted from the total.
The team with the highest number was moved to the top of the standings.
The Porter Creek Rams were the defending champs for each of the four divisions.
Warriors wage massive comeback to take girls 11/12 title
It was hard not to feel bad for the Porter Creek Rams.
Up 24-17 in the second set, with six match points in the palms of their hands, the Rams let point after point slip away, eventually losing the set and the match 12-25, 27-25, 15-9.
“You’ve got a pretty good cushion out there and you kind of get in that mode where you’re (saying), ‘That’s just one point, we’ll get this one, just one more point, we’ll get the next one,’ and for whatever reason, we just couldn’t pull it together,” said Rams coach Jordan Borgford. “One of the things you can’t coach — in practices anyways — is nerves. So this experience will gear them up for Super Volley and the Yukon Championships.”
“I think the girls really dug down deep and wanted this win today,” said Warriors coach Jennifer Norris. “And I kept saying to them, ‘Don’t look at the score, just keep playing for every single point.’”
Apparently the advice worked.
“I had no idea it was match point for so long,” said Warriors’ Rhiannon Jones with a laugh. “It couldn’t feel more good because we’ve been waiting for this for four years.”
Ironically, the Rams captured both set with little difficulty in the round robin section of the tournament.
“FH brought their ‘A’ game today,” said Rams’ outside power hitter Emily Fedoriak. “They did really well and we just couldn’t pass the ball well. But that’s OK, it’s just our mental game.
“We’re going to bring it even harder (at the Yukon Championships),” added Fedoriak. “More than half the girls are pumped for the Yukon Champs, so it should be good.”
Led by Montanna Coburn at the service line, not only did the Warriors tie the set 24-24, but won an eighth point for the lead. Only once the Warriors took the lead, did Coburn put a serve in the net.
“Montanna is consistent. We know that when she goes back on that line, that her serve is going over,” said Norris. “So we have a lot of confidence in her serve.”
The Rams beat the Robert Service Secondary Knights from Dawson City in the semis to reach the finals. The Warriors downed Vanier in the semis for their ticket to championship round.
Top-notch defence gives Crusaders boys 11/12 title
Volleyball’s necessary mental toughness is best depicted by a team’s ability to defeat another that had won its previous encounter.
After losing to the Warriors in the round robin 25-22, 25-17, the Vanier Crusaders bounced back with a straight set win in the finals, taking first with a score of 25-23, 25-14.
“They were a little bit better prepared mentally,” said Crusaders coach Dwayne Stoker. “They were quite upset with the way they played there and they wanted another shot at it. They knew they could play better.
“It’s all who is ready mentally as a group,” said Stoker. “Coaches have very little (control) of what’s going on there.”
Winning the first set only added fuel to the fire. Not only was the Crusaders’ offence beefed up, the Warriors could not seem to get the ball on Vanier’s court, time and time again having potential kills thwarted.
“One thing I noticed is that they had a few digs that were pretty amazing,” said Warriors coach Nathan Bingham. “They got a few that surprised me.”
“I think what saved our bacon was Coty Fraser,” said Stoker. “He dug up some big, big plays there. They hit some middle hits and he dug them up and kept the ball in play and alive, and we scored a point from that. And that jacks them up, gets them excited.
“I think that’s what changed the game.”
Besides, the Crusaders’ efficient defence, nerves also worked against the Warriors, according to their coach.
“I think when we get a little too tentative, and things are not clicking,” said Bingham “The other team can capitalize on that, and I think that’s what happened.”
Rams roll over Crusaders
for 9/10 boys title
Going for a big spike at set-point is definitely a flashy way to win. It just sometimes takes a few tries.
In the 9/10 boys’ final the Porter Creek Rams defeated the Vanier Crusaders 25-15, 25-20.
The Rams took an early lead in the first set, going up 4-0. But then, up 12-6, the Rams really started to shine, winning 10 straight points and eventually getting set point at 24-7. However, with the first set at their fingertips, the Rams began to stall, allowing the Crusaders to win nine straight points.
“I think what was happening there was that since it was such a big lead … everyone wanted to see a really dynamic finish,” said Rams coach Mike Kelly. “So it seemed that all the guys were trying to swing way too hard, whereas normally we’d swing for points instead of having the big kill, which we got, but it took about 10 points.
“I didn’t encourage it, but I also didn’t discourage it,” he added.
“We were up and we were thinking too far ahead,” said Rams’ Robin Smith, who eventually slammed home the set-winning kill for his team. “Our passing kind of went downhill once our passing was off our setting was off. Then we were swinging too hard for the quality of our passing.”
Despite finding the big kill for the first set, the Rams’ problems followed them into the second set, paving the way for Vanier to take a small 7-4 lead.
“That’s what’s neat about volleyball, a big part of it is emotion and pressure and dealing with pressure,” said Crusaders coach Russ Tait. “At this level you’ll see those dramatic shifts in momentum because the skill level isn’t there.”
After catching up at 10-10, the Rams took the lead and kept it to the end.
“The guys just needed to reset, to get back to where they were before,” said Kelly. “We needed to slow the game down and then pick it up when we’re on a roll.”
“So we’re at a little bit of a size and experience disadvantage, but the boys are learning every time they’re out there,” said Tait, speaking of his team that only has one Grade 10 player. “Today our passing was really our biggest difficulty.”
To get in the finals the Rams defeated the Dawson Knights in straight sets.
“Had a really good game with them too,” said Tait. “Dawson has a good little team … They’ve got some good players and are well coached.”
PC defeated FHC in the semis to advance to the finals.
Warriors girls 9/10 title
For Warriors coach Ken Kuni, things don’t get much better than this.
“That is the most exciting match that I’ve ever coached,” said Kuni. “These girls that I’m coaching this year are the best bunch of girls that I’ve ever been associated with.”
The Warriors took the girls’ 9/10 title Saturday with a hard fought 25-18, 12-25, 15-11 win over the Porter Creek Rams.
“We had their number today,” said Kuni. “It’s always pretty close between PC, Vanier and us over the years. For us to do as well as we did against Vanier (in the semis) and then to come out big against PC speaks volumes about not only my captain (Taylor Hanna) but my whole team.”
After taking the opening set, the Warriors lost some intensity, allowing the Rams to answer back with a one-sided second set.
“The wheels kind of came off there for us,” said Kuni. “I think, for us, we were basking in the euphoria of taking the first set as seemingly easy as we did.”
“We were thinking we had it,” said Hanna. “So we slacked off a bit.”
The Rams opened the second with a 6-0 lead, and continued to dominate with an aggressive game at the net.
“We didn’t show up to play that (first) set,” said Rams coach Tara Wardle. “The second set we played our game. We played hard, had beautiful sets and attacks. And we know to be successful we need to be an aggressive team.
“The third set we started that way, and at the end we were hoping they would make mistakes instead of playing to win.”
Suffering from weak passing, the Warriors fell behind 5-1 in the decisive third set, but managed to tie it at 8-8, before taking the lead for the first time in the set.
“They have amazing serves and they can be hard to take sometimes,” said Hanna of the opening of the third. “We just had a lot of difficulty setting it up.
“And (the third set) only goes to 15, so it’s not hard for a few points to start adding up.”
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