The F.H. Collins Warriors and the Porter Creek Rams put on a spectacular show on Halloween on the Warriors home court.
The game had everything a volleyball fan could ask for. There were powerful swings on offence and some spectacular defence. In the end, it was the Warriors who prevailed in the fifth set to win 3-2.
It was the Rams who opened the game strong, undeterred by the home crowd. Payton Mountain set the tone early for Porter Creek with strong serving that put the heavy hitters of the Warriors out of system.
When the Warriors could run their offence, the Rams’ defence was in the correct spots which made their digs look effortless.
The Rams had built themselves an early advantage but the Warriors began to chip away as Maya Cairns-Locke was able to find the holes in the Porter Creek armour.
F.H. got within two points to make it 23-21 but could not get over the hump. With the score 24-23 Rams middle attacker Angel McCallum put the set away.
Warriors player of the game, libero, Paige Poleman said the Rams came out the better team.
“At first, we thought ... we were like ‘we could take ‘em,’” said Poleman. “They really came out and showed us what’s going on and they made us work.”
The Warriors came out flying in the second set. Cairns-Locke set the tone early with some booming attacks which the otherwise solid Rams defence could not handle.
Porter Creek’s defence was still strong but they were unable to generate any offence as the Warriors won 25-13 to square the game.
It was a much closer third set, a true offence versus defence battle. The Rams again were in perfect position and dug up every ball. However, they couldn’t find their offence when it counted.
F.H. got a booming hit from Emma Boyd and then put the third away 25-22.
Poleman said the Rams defence got really frustrating to play against throughout the game.
“When we would have our big hitter Emma Boyd going up and they would just pass it up it was like ‘Ok got to be more strategic,’” said Poleman.
“We talked about placement and not hitting it right to them, corners or hitting the corners.”
The fourth was another back and forth set. The Rams were able to find their offence and build an 18-12 advantage.
Olivia Blisner led the Rams offence with a variety of attacks. Blisner mixed in some powerful swings with some cheeky tips to keep the Warriors defence honest.
With the set 24-22, it was Blisner who put it away for the Rams to force a fifth and deciding set.
The fifth set was a doozy with lots of action. Boyd got things rolling for the Warriors by “toque-ing” (hitting the ball off an opponent’s head) a Rams defender.
Undeterred, the Rams pushed forward with well-placed attacks and strong serves. Porter Creek led 8-6 as the teams switched sides.
The Warriors grabbed the momentum back after the switch led by Boyd, who was proving to be unstoppable down the stretch. With booming hit after booming hit, F.H. took the lead and did not let it go as they went on to win the fifth 15-11.
F.H., who struggled on defence early in the match got things on track at the end, something Poleman said was key to their win.
“We just realized we really need to pull it together because we aren’t going to win if flat on our feet and not talking,” said Poleman. “If you have no communication you can’t win, you can’t play.”
Both teams were coming off the Dawson Invitational Volleyball Tournament and Poleman said the Warriors were feeling it in their legs.
“We were just so exhausted, the whole bus ride home we were just out,” said Poleman. “It is what it is though. You have to put that effort in.”
With the win, F.H. remains undefeated on the season and Poleman said the team feels a target on their back.
“One-hundred per cent,” said Poleman. “They are working their asses off so they can come for us but we are going to work even harder.”
The Rams player of the game was Iliana Stechin, who has won it twice this season.