For the first time since 2020, there was a tournament to crown the best volleyball teams in the NWT and it ended up being a weekend which featured some really good action.

The NWT Volleyball Championships returned to Weledeh and St. Pat’s gymnasiums over the Feb. 11-12 weekend with 12 women’s teams and six men’s teams battling it out for the right to be called the best. In the end, Yk Blue came out on top in the men’s final on Sunday afternoon, while JBTMBCDR of Yellowknife captured the women’s title.

Yk Blue kept up its string of making it to the final and also kept up the streak of defeating Frosted Tips of Yellowknife in the final. This year’s best-of-five decider went four sets with the champs prevailing, 3-1. The two sides split the first and second sets before Yk Blue won the third and eventually the fourth to claim victory.

Mike Mathison played with the champs and said winning the third set was a big key to victory.

“The comfort level certainly went up, for sure,” he said. “You’re in the situation where you have a set to play with, and you know the other team has all the pressure to get the fourth set to stay in it. That being said, we wanted to get it over with and not give them a chance to get the momentum back.”

The final was a reversal of the round-robin meeting between the two teams — Frosted Tips won two straight in the best-of-three contest.

Once Mathison was done with the business of the men’s final, he put on his coach’s hat to lead the Crush 18U girls outfit into battle against JBTMBCDR in the best-of-five women’s final. Crush won the first set, but JBTMBCDR took sets two and three to put Crush on the back heel. A comeback win for Crush in the fourth set meant a fifth-set tiebreak and a race to 15, which JBTMBCDR ended up winning to take the title.

“They got on a good serving streak in the fifth,” said Mathison. “It’s tough when that happens and you can’t find a way to break it, but it was a really good final.”

As happened on the men’s side, the Crush were the superior team when they met JBTMBCDR in round-robin action, but Mathison said their opponent certainly improved from that first meeting.

“They were serving better, their defence was better and I think we ran out of gas a bit,” he said. “It would have been the same for them, so that’s not an excuse, but they were the better team in the end.”

In addition to the teams from Yellowknife, there were entries from Behchoko, Whati, Deline, Fort Smith and Rankin Inlet.

Mathison said it was a great weekend of volleyball.

“We always look forward to it,” he said. “We don’t get a chance to play a lot of men’s volleyball. We tried to have a men’s division at the (2021) Crush Open, but it didn’t happen. I think everyone just enjoyed the chance to get back out on the court and play a territorial championship again.”

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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