A standard, regular-season game Monday night between two AAA private school rivals marked more than a four-set win for the host York House Tigers over Crofton House.
In a Vancouver conference crowded with AA and AAA talent and bolstered by club competition, the game brought a new result for two teams that fared radically differently last year.
The unranked Tigers won only one game in 2011 and beneath the surface of their 1-11 record was a rebuilding effort that is so far paying dividends.
Crofton House, ranked No. 5 in B.C. this week with two wins and three losses, recorded a landmark season in 2011. They competed for the AAA senior girls volleyball provincial championship and two standouts, Melissa Wells and Tamara Nip, were named to the five-player all-star team.
“We would like to put ourselves in a position to be there again,” said Crofton’s head coach Chris Berglund. “That’s going to take, from today, some work. From what we’ve seen before, we have the potential to do that.”
Along with Nip and Wells, Crofton’s offence lost multiple veterans and is now relying on Grade 11 and 10 to step up. Against York Monday night, Crofton deflated each time the Tigers scored a string of unanswered points or racked up aces from the service line. York’s Kaleigh Matheson had seven aces in the match and nailed three in the final set to break a 14-14 tie and ignite a 1-11 run that close the game.
“We need to work hard, we need to work on our mental game—it needs to be stronger,” said Berglund. “We need to not let teams go on runs, we need to work our physical conditioning. We have a good test at UBC-O this weekend. We’ll put that to work.”
Registering their first win of the season, York (1-1) won 25-22, 24-26, 25-15, 25-16 and made fewer errors that Crofton.
Starting strong with power hitting from left-handed Isabelle Korchinski and Madison Cote-Dear, Crofton took a 9-15 lead in the first set but crumbled on the service return. York’s Hannah Skolrodd fired off three consecutive aces to close the gap and then Siobhan Finan fired off two more to win the set.
Crofton rallied in the second set to win in extra points and despite excellent hitting and blocking down the stretch, made too many errors and were outmatched by York House.
“This is a group that plays together as a team, they’ve been together for a number of years and they’ve worked together really hard,” said Tigers head coach Chris Ruse, who joined the senior team this year after working previously with the same players as juniors. “The skills have been there all along and it’s just a question of putting it together and they found it. I’m happy as a coach to see that.”