Whitehorse Daily Star

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HOME COURT HEROINES – The F.H. 2 Grade 8 girls pose with their medals after capturing the volleyball championship Saturday at F.H. Collins.

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LAUGHING LYNX – The CSSC Mercier Junior boys volleyball team proudly display their medals at St. Francis in Whitehorse on Saturday.

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WONDERFUL WARRIORS – The F.H. Collins Junior girls team poses for a pic after capturing the championship at St. Francis in Whitehorse Saturday.

F.H. claims girls’ Grade 8 volleyball Champs; Mercier wins boys’ side

F.H. Collins claimed the girls’ Grade 8 volleyball championships Saturday at F.H. Collins.

By Morris Prokop on November 23, 2022

F.H. Collins claimed the girls’ Grade 8 volleyball championships Saturday at F.H. Collins.

The Mercier boys captured the boys’ side.

Sean McCarron coached the F.H. 2 girls team that took the title.

“It was a really good tournament. We were pretty consistent throughout. We finished first in our pool of four with a record of 5-1 in sets. The one set we lost was 25-23, so it was very close. The girls had been improving all year but the same thing could be said of all the teams. When I was thinking about the tournament and how things evolved over the last two months with Grade 8 volleyball, at least in my limited experience coaching volleyball over the years, it’s very unpredictable. A team can look pretty strong and have some nice rhythm, but volleyball is a sport that’s so momentum-driven and every point matters, so it’s not like you can just play hard and play through certain things. If you make a few mistakes, especially in a best of three like in our final, you could be out of it.”

McCarron described their path to the final.

“It was really great to see all (eight) teams in the tournament had flashes of really, really great volleyball and at the end of the day, St. Francis 2 won their pool. So it was pretty fitting that we played them, because we had actually battled them all season. They’re always tough competition even though like I said, all the teams beat each other, at least a set, throughout the whole season. I don’t recall the score but it was somewhere around 25-14 and then we lost the second set 25-23.

“And then in our second match of the round-robin, we played Porter Creek 2 … we won that 2-0. The scores were somewhere around 25-16, 25-15. We played really well.

“And then in our last round robin games we played Carmacks Tantalus (school) so we won that one 2-0 as well, with similar scores, right around 25-15, 25-13.

“So our girls played really well. It’s just that one defeat. Made a number of errors, kind of lost focus a little bit after a strong start.

“And then in the semi final, we had to wait for the play-in game. And that was a quarterfinal between F.H. 1 and St. Francis 1. F.H. won the game. So we had to play our own team in the semi final, which was bittersweet. But at the same time, we were pretty excited because at least one team would make it through to the final.

“In our pre-tournament practice, I’d say the F.H. 1 team outplayed the F.H. 2 team. So really, it was just a matter of who was going to make serves, who was going to make mistakes. The F.H. 2 team won two sets to zero. And I don’t recall the score but it was 2-0.

“So that sent F.H. 1 to the bronze medal game and F.H. 1 were second in their pool, so they finished second to St. Francis 2. So they did what they needed to do and they made it to the semis which was, based on the pool play, kind of expected or hoped for.

“They ended up losing. I think they beat Porter Creek 1 in straight sets. They beat Dawson, I think they beat them in two sets, but then they lost to St. Francis two straight. So they had a record of 4-2 in pool play. St. Francis 2 had a record of 6-0. So they actually went undefeated in pool play.

“Then we went to the final, and we lost the first set 25-23 after taking a little bit of an early lead through the teens. St. Francis came back.

“And then in the second set, we went down early. I think we went down 4-2. I almost called a timeout that early. The girls played through it and got a few serves in – the final we missed very few serves. All season we were trying to serve overhand but the girls made a decision to kind of play it safe with my blessing of course, because in Grade 8 … it’s not always who makes the most plays, but who makes the fewest errors. But I think in the case of F.H. 2, they actually made a lot of great three-hit bump-set-spike plays in the final. Especially in the third set.

“We won the third – so it was 25-23 in the first set for St. Francis 2 and then we won the second set 25-23. And then in the third set, it was 15-7 for us and we finished it off with some hits and played a bunch of free balls over and we were able to take advantage of it. It wasn’t just because of a team making fewer mistakes. I do think the F.H 2 team really went out and played well in that third set to earn it.”

“We didn’t actually lose a match all year. But we split a lot, right because in our play days, we usually play just two sets. You get two or three matches so you get a really good sense of who certain servers are, you know who who can hit, so you do get to know the personality of certain teams but you just never know. Certain teams that were strong tend to make it to the semi finals.

“In this case, a lot of kids were sick and not 100 per cent health-wise at the different schools and at the end of the day, you just hold on and you hope that your team performs when it matters.”

McCarron wasn’t the only coach for F.H.

“We had three senior girls coaching and another teacher coaching over there … it certainly wasn’t just me,” he asserted. Grade 12 coaches for F.H. included Riley Elliott, Cambria Alford, and Tenisha Mayes. The other teacher coach was Wayne Robinson.

McCarron said a few key girls stood out for his F.H.1 squad.

“We had very consistent play from Wylloh Dinn … an excellent hitter and very quick and a consistent passer. Her biggest contribution is her hitting. She was our most consistent hitter I’d say for the tournament.

“Another standout would be Mischa Ng-Schmidt. She hustled. She was an excellent setter, made consistent plays throughout.

“The third player was my daughter, Emily. She was our most consistent passer and probably our most consistent server and can also hit as well.

“But we had other girls step up too … every girl really contributed and made plays … it seemed like every girl improved and it showed in the end.

There were no player awards, but prizes were drawn.

As for what’s next for the girls, McCarron said the club season will be starting soon.

“So the Heat Yukon club team, Sub Zero club is starting strong there in December here, then big time in January. So a lot of the girls are gonna move on to playing club.”

McCarron also had a chance to watch some of the boy’s action.

“I know that the Mercier team was very strong all season and I think they went undefeated in the tournament.

“F.H. boys, they looked like they were finishing the tournament strong as well. “St. Francis, unfortunately, had a number of injuries … they had three teams entered. And I think one of the teams made it to the semi finals, but unfortunately they were defeated. And so Dawson finished third. They looked really good. They looked like they could have challenged to make it to the final as well.

“But just from my observations here, it definitely looked like all three teams showed flashes of any two teams making it to finals and performing when it mattered at the end. But Mercier was definitely the most consistent. They seemed to have kids that could all serve strong and pass and hit.”

McCarron mentioned that the Mercier Junior boys also won their championships and the F.H. Junior girls won theirs as well.

“It definitely seemed like the future of volleyball is very bright, because the strength of those younger teams is only going to flow right through to their older grades.”

The F.H. Junior Girls beat the St. Francis Junior girls and the Mercier Junior boys beat the formerly undefeated St. Francis Junior boys in three sets.

Here are the standings from the Grade 8 girls championships:

  1. F.H.2 (won in three sets, 2-1, 23-25, 25-23, 15-7)
  2. St. Francis 2
  3. F.H. 1
  4. Robert Service (Dawson)

On the boys side, it was:

  1. Mercier
  2. F.H.C.
  3. Robert Service
  4. St. Francis

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