Crusaders march to three of four volleyball titles
The underdog Vanier Crusaders surprised the F.H. Collins Warriors in Saturday afternoon’s senior boys volleyball final, doing away with their Riverdale rivals by winning two straight sets in front of a packed house at Porter Creek Secondary School.
The underdog Vanier Crusaders surprised the F.H. Collins Warriors in Saturday afternoon’s senior boys volleyball final, doing away with their Riverdale rivals by winning two straight sets in front of a packed house at Porter Creek
Vanier won the Yukon championship by scores of 25-23 and 25-22 in a match that proved to be a climactic thriller to a day full of volleyball.
Championship play began at 10:30 a.m., and when the dust finally settled late Saturday afternoon, Vanier Catholic Secondary School had emerged as the big winner, scoring a medal haul that included junior girls gold, junior boys gold, senior girls silver, and senior boys gold.
The Porter Creek Rams senior girls volleyball team prevented a blue sweep, squeaking past Vanier in a tightly-played final to claim gold.
All-star duo, MVP Giczi lead Vanier to senior boys gold
Crusaders power Zach Giczi couldn’t contain his excitement following his team’s dismantling of the powerhouse Warriors.
“What a great experience to go out there and win that game,” the tournament MVP told the Star after his team earned gold by downing the reigning Super Volley champs in two straight sets. “That team was undefeated the whole season, so to come out there and beat them ... It was really all just heart and effort. Honestly, it’s one of the best feelings I’ve had in a long time.”
Giczi said the individual honours were a definite bonus, but pointed out he couldn’t have helped spike Vanier to victory without his setter Louis Kedziora.
“This MVP would have been nothing without Louis,” said the Grade 11 student.
“He played a fantastic game, and he sent me the ball. I couldn’t have done it without my boys.”
Kedziora and Trent Pumphrey were named tournament all-stars.
The win capped a season of ups and downs for the Crusaders, who endured a roster shakeup just two weeks prior to the championship playdowns.
Then heading into the territorial championships, the club dropped their first two matches in the round robin, before coach Jeremy Staveley rallied his team to an undefeated finish.
“Our season was very rocky,” Staveley admitted post-game. “We had some players that got injured and some players who left the team for other reasons. But there was a core group of guys who had a really good work ethic. These nine guys just came to practice every day, half an hour early, and they just worked their butts off. It paid off, at the end.”
Dawson’s Robert Service Knights won the bronze medal.
Porter Creek prevents Vanier sweep with senior girls win
Led by stars Daria Jordan, Hannah Milner and Sam Wintemute, the Porter Creek Rams were the only team able to hold off the Crusaders Saturday, winning gold following a two-set thriller.
The Rams took home the championship with wins of 26-24 and 25-21, reversing the score of last month’s Super Volley championship, which saw Vanier eke out victory over Porter Creek.
“I’m really proud of how we played and how we pulled it together when things weren’t going our way,” said Jordan, named tournament MVP in her Grade 12 year. “We were pretty nervous coming into this game, after what happened in
the Super Volley final, when we didn’t play how we wanted to. I think we came more as a team than we did in the Super Volley final. We knew what we had to do and we got it done.”
Rams coach Amy Palamar echoed her star player’s sentiments.
“It means the world to us,” she said of the gold-medal win. “It was heartbreaking when we lost our Super Volley final two weeks ago. That was our one loss of the entire season. We worked really hard after that. We really wanted it, and I’m really proud of the girls for stepping it up and coming back strong.”
Dawson won senior girls bronze.
Rubio powers Crusaders over Warriors in junior boys final
The hard-working Crusaders beat the F.H. Collins Warriors Grade 10 team 25-18 and 25-21 to claim gold.
“It was a helluva game actually,” said Vanier power Kyle Rubio, a Grade 10 student.
The tournament MVP said the win was even sweeter, considering he and many of his teammates struggled to fit in practices amidst their after-school work commitments.
“I’m so thankful that I got a team like that. They’re so awesome. They’re all talented and athletic. I couldn’t have (won MVP) without them.”
Coach Dustin Shewfelt said despite the obvious time conflicts, the team focused on its strengths to overcome that challenge.
“I feel like every one of the players on the team is naturally athletic,” he said.
“They’re gifted, multi-sport athletes ... basketball, hockey, golf. And they all have the ability to transfer that athleticism to volleyball.
“The biggest thing with them is they’re all a really great group of guys. They’re very talented, and they’re lighthearted,” Shewfelt added. “I’m proud of them and the system Vanier has. I think Vanier’s development system is great, so
thanks to the Grade 8 coaching and the junior coaching last year. Obviously they had a lot of good mentorship, because they’re all really talented guys. I felt very fortunate to coach a group that has that base already.”
The Grade 9 Warriors took home the bronze medal.
Crusaders down Rams two straight in junior girls final
In the junior girls final, Vanier snatched a 25-18, 25-23 championship victory from their cross-town rivals from Porter Creek.
“It was a real tough season,” Crusaders coach Dwayne Stoker said post-game.
“The girls worked really hard and gelled together ... I’m just extremely proud of them right now.”
While he didn’t deny his team’s high skill level, Stoker believes it was mental toughness that saw his club win gold.
“They’re getting the skill, but they’re still young and don’t have much game experience. Anytime, they can go shaky,” he explained. “They were playing really well, but for me, I just felt it was just a matter of time before something
happens. I felt we had enough skill to take us through ... as long as that mental part was there. I’m very proud of all of them.”
“It means a lot that we won this championship,” said tournament MVP Jiela Tobias, a Grade 10 student. “We worked hard for it all season. It’s all about teamwork.”
The F.H. Collins ‘A’ team won the bronze medal.