For the first three sets it looked like it was anybody's game, but the Vanier Vikings took control in the fourth set and booked themselves a ticket into the Moose Jaw High School Senior Boys Volleyball semifinals.
Vanier topped the Avonlea Eagles in five sets (23-25, 25-22, 22-25, 25-12, 15-9) during one of three quarterfinal games on Thursday night around the league.
“That should be a volleyball match, two teams going at it for a full five sets, keeping the crowd in suspense of who's going to win, it was great volleyball tonight from both sides,” said Jeff Anuik, Vanier head coach.
Vanier and Avonlea battled back-and-forth during the first three sets, but Vanier was able to build up a big lead in the fourth set and seemed to find some momentum that carried over into the fifth set, allowing them to come away with the win.
“As the match went on, I felt our guys got more and more comfortable and they were able to not worry about making mistakes and instead want to make plays, and it showed in that fourth and fifth set,” said Anuik.
The Eagles put up a good fight and a strong power game ran through Logan Beingessner allowed them to keep Vanier off balance during the first three sets.
“We played pretty well overall,” said Avonlea head coach Brent Lothian. “They had a bit of trouble finishing, Vanier started picking on our corners at the end and it got us, but it's something for our defence to fix up in the coming weeks.”
Vanier gets a date with the first place Peacock Toilers in the semifinals coming up on Tuesday after their win.
“The key will be not worrying so much about who our opponent is because in this league, everyone is a good team, the more important thing is going to be worrying about our side and cutting down our errors,” said Anuik.
The other quarterfinal match-ups had the second place Central Cyclones advancing with a straight set win over the Rouleau Rebels (25-15, 28-26, 25-11).
They will play the third place Cornerstone Falcons, who topped the Caronport Cougars in three straight sets (25-19, 25-15, 25-15) on Thursday.
In the lone Senior Girls quarterfinal game on Thursday, the Vanier Spirits fell in four sets to the Rouleau Rebels (25-13, 25-17, 22-25, 25-21).
A slow start ended up costing the Spirits in the loss to the lower ranked Rebels.
“We got ourselves in a hole at the start, going down by two and we took the third, but we just weren't able to close it with the fourth,” said head coach Rikki Bell.
“We were actually missing quite a few of our senior players today and we had to rely on a couple of call-ups to come up from the junior team, so I was very impressed. The first couple of sets might have been some nerves, but we settled in the third and fourth.”
Rouleau will now take on the undefeated Caronport Cougars in the semifinal on Tuesday, while Peacock meets Central in the other semifinal game.
The city championship is set for next Thursday at Sask Polytech.