Volleyball: STS edge HTA in drillers tournament final
High Country continues to provide an early season jumping off point for the Spartans.
The Strathcona-Tweedsmuir Spartans claimed their third straight championship at the senior boys volleyball Drillers tournament Saturday in Black Diamond in a thrilling three-set final over league rival Holy Trinity Academy.
“We were loud and kept up the energy,” said Spartans outside hitter Lucas Crichton. “As long as we kept up the energy, kept swinging, doing our best on offence and defence that was key to winning the game.”
The all-FAC (Foothills Athletic Council) final was anyone’s match up until the final points.
The Knights, the reigning FAC champions, took the opening set relatively comfortably by a 24-19 count only to have the Spartans respond with a late surge to take the second set.
“We had a pretty big deficit and when we’re down by that much you have to pick up the energy and keep the team going, get the team hyped,” Crichton added. “Volleyball is a pretty back and forth game and when we get on a run it’s kind of in their face and makes it hard for them to stay in it.”
The Spartans looked poised to take the second set after a 4-0 run vaulted them into a 23-19 advantage. The Knights punched right back and evened the score at 24-24 on a big hit from middle Isaiah Michel.
STS would hang on for the 26-24 win clinched on a deft serve off the net and onto the hard-court from lefty Jeremy Pierce-Lord.
“After that first set I think pretty much everybody in the building was thinking it was done, myself included,” said Spartans coach Dale Roth. “A couple guys stepped in and made one or two plays and that turned the tide. Volleyball is so momentum driven.”
The momentum seesawed back and forth in the deciding third set with both teams inches away from match points.
Following a Knights service fault, the Spartans put the game away on a Crichton kill over a pair of blockers to take set number three by an 18-16 count.
“I talked to my setter before and he said this one is coming to you,” Crichton said. “I got ready and as I got up I saw a hole in the block and hit it as hard as I could.
“That was a great feeling.”
HTA finished first in its pool, picking up victories over St. Joe’s, Brant Christian, Oilfields and St. Michael’s.
The Knights then dispatched Vulcan and Olds Koinoaia en route to the gold medal game.
The Spartans claimed top spot in Pool B, going undefeated in round robin and outlasting Calgary Academy and St. Michael’s in the playoff round.
Depth way crucial in the Spartans navigating to a three-peat.
“Some years you have six players and a couple subs and couple guys on the bench you’re looking for spaces to get in,” Roth said. “This year I’ve got 12 and every guy is getting almost equal game time and there are no favourites. The big thing is all 12 of them score.
“We’ve talked a lot about how it’s not one person, it’s the team.”