Powerhouse Alaska too much for Yukon in final

While the junior males were ending their own 26-year gold drought, the Yukon's junior female volleyball team was ending its own parched stretch of the same length.

While the junior males were ending their own 26-year gold drought, the Yukon’s junior female volleyball team was ending its own parched stretch of the same length.

For the first time since the 1986 Arctic Winter Games – also held in Whitehorse – the territory’s junior female squad won silver at the Arctic Winter Games on Friday at the Canada Games Centre.

“We’re really happy (with silver),” said Yukon captain Brooke Nielsen. “We came here knowing the competition we were going to face and we gave it our all.

“We did play for the gold, but we’re taking silver and we’re happy with it.”

The Yukon took silver, losing 25-5, 25-12, 25-11 to powerhouse Alaska in the final. Alaska went through the Games winning 11 consecutive matches without dropping a set.

“Volleyball is very popular in the state of Alaska and a lot of it, I think, is because it’s climate controlled,” said Alaska head coach Judy Knecht. “These are volleyball players. They are not multiple-sport athletes.”

“We’re fairly happy with the silver. Alaska was really stiff competition and nobody came close to them this tournament at all,” said Yukon coach Natasha Bilodeau. “The goal was just to compete with them today and they did a good job.”

The Yukon advanced to the final with a 25-19, 25-19, 25-20 win over the N.W.T. in the semifinal. They also went undefeated against Nunavut who, after not taking a single win during the round-robin, captured bronze with a five-set win over the N.W.T.

“Going into the (final) game, we knew it was going to be really, really tough but we made it a positive experience,” said Nielsen. “We had fun out there, gave it our all and that’s what the Arctic Winter Games are about.

“Erika New had a great game – she’s our libero. She always pops the ball up when you think it’s impossible.”

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

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