Watching Team Canada thump Cuba in FIVB Volleyball World League play on Monday in Calgary inspired the Dawson Diggers to put an end to a string of losses, says the team’s coach.
“That was inspirational and I think that helped open the boys’ eyes to the way volleyball can be played at the highest level,” said Diggers head coach Steve Laszlo. “I think that helped us turnaround our bad luck on the first day.”
The Diggers dropped their first six matches at the 2015 Volleyball Canada Championships in Calgary this week.
After watching the Canada-Cuba match, they notched their first two wins of the championship to reach the final of Division 2, Tier 4 in U16 boys.
The Diggers came away with the silver after losing 25-18, 25-22 to Edmonton’s FOG Red in the gold medal match on Tuesday.
“They were pretty pumped to play in a finals match,” said Laszlo. “The first couple days didn’t go so well, but on Day 3 the energy was there and they really came together. Everyone improved their game and strung together a couple wins at the right time.”
The Diggers team has been together since elementary school. Playing as the Dawson City’s Robert Service School Knights, they won the junior boys division at the Yukon Volleyball Championships at the end of November. The same squad won gold in the Grade 8 division – with an all Grade 7 team – at the 2011 Yukon championships.
They had a couple new additions for the trip to Calgary, but “the core was basically the same,” said Laszlo.
The Diggers reached the final with a 25-21, 25-23 win over the Alberta, Pakland Vipers in the Tier 4 semifinal.
They advanced to the semi in close 25-23, 6-25, 15-13 win over the Saskatchewan Rustlers from Lloydminster in the quarterfinal.
“We won our first set of the whole tournament, so we were all hooting and hollering, then in the second set we lost 25-6,” said Laszlo. “During the break we had a little chuckle in the huddle. ‘All right, OK, back to volleyball.’ And they were able to pull out that third set.
“They all showed some character in that moment, to wipe it off their shoulders and get back to playing.”
The U16 Diggers were one of three Yukon teams at the nationals this week, along with the Diggers U15 girls and Whitehorse’s Subzero U16 girls.
The U15 Diggers went winless in seven matches but had some close battles along the way. Five of their seven matches went to three sets.
They finished with a 25-15, 25-19 loss to Saskatoon’s JCVC Dynamite in the round of 16 to place ninth in Tier 4 of Division 3.
The Subzero squad tied for third in Tier 4 of Division 4.
They lost their first five matches before beating Kelowna, B.C.‘s The Pack 26-24, 25-18 and then Calgary’s Canada West team 25-15, 25-19 in the Tier 4 quarterfinal.
Subzero ended with a 15-25, 25-11, 15-11 loss to Alberta’s 3 Seas Kraken in the semi.
“Lack of game experience once again showed against a few of those teams that we were a good match to beat, but the girls did a lot of good things out there and they should be proud of themselves,” said coach Jennifer Pope in an email to the News.
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