Yukon’s boys volleyball team approached the Western Canada Summer Games with the goal of taking a set off a province.
In fact, they did it against BC, the team with the largest population to draw from, taking the opening set in a 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-12 loss Thursday evening.
“Congratulations to the guys, they’ve been working hard since December, and our goal was to at least take a set off a provincial team,” said Yukon head coach Russ Tait. “How many millions of people are in British Columbia? And there’s just 30,000 in the Yukon.
“All Yukoners should be really proud of those kids. That’s a big deal to beat a province like BC, even in a set.”
After some back and forth on the scoreboard, Yukon took a four-point lead at 15-11 on consecutive kills from Derek Anderson, before Albert Spycher made it 19-13 on two well-placed serves, including an ace. Blocks from Henry Kedziora and Anderson inched the Yukon closer, making it 22-15. BC then handed over the remaining three points with a pair of missed serves and a missed spike.
It is the first time a Yukon boys team has ever taken a set off BC, and only the second time the territory has taken a set off a province.
“We had lots of energy. BC, it was their first match of the tournament, so they were missing some serves,” said Tait. “Our guys served really well and played great defence.”
The boys began the tournament with a 25-19, 25-17, 25-13 loss to Manitoba Thursday morning. In the first set, the Yukon lost starting middle Mason Gray to an ankle injury, forcing the team to make some positioning adjustments.
“We had to change our lineup up, but the guys adapted,” said Tait.
The Yukon’s girls team is still hoping to capture their first set, beginning the Games with two straight-set losses on Thursday.
“Although the scores look bad, we played really well for us,” said Yukon girls head coach Natasha Bilodeau. “If we can rally with them, and they have to play it over three of four times before they get a point, we’ve done our job.”
The Yukon girls lost 25-8, 25-8, 25-9 against Alberta in the morning and 25-8, 25-12, 25-8 to Manitoba in the evening.
The prowess the team has shown on defence is impressive, said Bilodeau.
“This morning, Kiana Palamar and Sam Henney did a fantastic job for us defensively, really dug in and got a lot of great balls up for us. And Kelsey Smeeton was our lead for kills and did a really good job up at the net,” said Bilodeau. “(Against Manitoba), Tanis Avery was doing a great job up at the net for us as a middle blocker; Kiana made some great digs, and the rest of the girls did their jobs.”
Yukon’s girls team is facing NWT Friday morning, followed by BC in the afternoon. The boys will spend Friday taking on Saskatchewan before Alberta.
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