Sub Zero digs gold at western championships

Sub Zero's U14 boys team had a rough start to the Canada West Open in Abbottsford, B.C., over the weekend. But they had a fantastic finish.

Sub Zero’s U14 boys team had a rough start to the Canada West Open in Abbottsford, B.C., over the weekend. But they had a fantastic finish.

The Yukon rep volleyball team began with four losses before posting three consecutive wins en route to taking gold in Tier 3 of Division 2 at the western Canadian championships.

“I’m very happy about their performance,” said Sub Zero coach Peter Grundmanis. “I thought we were stacked up pretty well. I knew we weren’t going to be in the top flight, but that we would certainly hold our own and the kids would learn.

“To win a gold medal, we’re very pleased with that.”

The Sub Zero squad claimed gold with a 25-20, 25-14 win over B.C.‘s Victoria North, who the Yukon team got their first win of the championships against in the round-robin.

Sub Zero advanced to the final with a 25-19, 25-19 win over Richmond’s Air Attack after a tight quarterfinal against Abbotsford’s Orangemen Rebels, winning 25-21, 23-25, 15-13.

“Sub Zero has a history of sending young kids to these tournaments, to get them exposed to some good volleyball as soon as possible,” said Grundmanis. “Hopefully they’ll stay excited about it and continue to want more of it.”

Left-side Zach Unrau “really increased his confidence and stepped up to play quite well on the national stage,” he added. “It was a real pleasant surprise. His consistency was a real pleasant surprise – he was on pretty much for the whole tournament. ‘On’ as in focused and executing.”

The Sub Zero boys were joined by two other Yukon teams at the U14 championship in Abbotsford.

Dawson City’s 14 Below boys team produced three wins before getting knocked out in the semifinal of Tier 3 of Division 2.

“It was their first time going and they played phenomenal,” said Dawson coach Steve Laszlo. “They were very supportive of each other and they all stepped up for the occasion. Their blocking – their serving was phenomenal.

“I was most proud of how they worked together as a team and supported each other when they missed pointed or missed hits.”

Fourteen Below, which is a play on words between the age group and a common temperature in Dawson, lost in the semifinal 25-21, 25-15 to Victoria North, who went on to lose to the Sub Zero in the final.

The Dawson squad reached the semifinal with a 25-15, 25-23 win over Abbotsford’s Orangemen Rebels.

“This is basically our Grade 8 boys team that competed at the Yukon championships this year,” said Laszlo. “There were a few boys interested in playing for Sub Zero this year, but the travel to Whitehorse to play for Sub Zero is pretty tough.

“So we ended up creating our own community team here through Yukon Volleyball.”

The Grade 8 team from the Robert Service School in Dawson played up in the Grade 9/10 boys division of last November’s Yukon Volleyball Championships, winning silver with just seven players. The team also won the Grade 8 division the previous year while still a Grade 7 team.

“The boys did a lot of fundraising for this,” said Laszlo. “They were shoveling snow, they were bagging groceries, to raise money. These trips cost a lot of money.

“They were able to pay for all their travel arrangements for the whole trip and they have money left over for next year.”

While U14 teams were battling in Abbotsford, the Sub Zero U18 men’s team was picking up wins at the Canadian Open in Edmonton.

Sub Zero’s U18 team won three of eight matches to reach the semifinal of Tier 2, Division 2 at the national championships.

“The boys all enjoyed themselves, we had a good tournament,” said Sub Zero coach Russ Tait. “We’re not in the same situation that we were in last year … But they all performed well, represented us well. It was tough teams and tough competition.”

Last year Sub Zero won Tier 3 of Division 1 at the Canadian Open. That result put the team at 17th overall out of 64 of the country’s best U18 teams, the highest a Yukon team has ever finished at the nationals in the U18 men’s division.

This year Sub Zero defeated Fort McMurray, Alta.‘s NLVC Huskies 25-22, 25-17 in the quarterfinal.

They lost 25-15, 25-16 to Brandon, Man.‘s Team Extreme, who went on to lose in the Tier 2 final.

“Cody Park played really well, Kieran Small played well as libero,” said Tait. “Max Clarke, who is a U15 player playing with us in the U18 division, played well.

“All the boys played to the best of their ability.”

Sub Zero U14 girls, who were competing in Abbotsford, lost in the Tier 2, Division 2 quarterfinal to the Victoria Chargers 25-21, 23-25, 15-7.

During the round-robin the team took wins over Kamloops’ Demons and Calgary’s Sparks Flame.

The coach of the Sub Zero U14 girls did not respond to interview requests.

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