Yukon’s two volleyball teams both served up wins to begin the Arctic Winter Games on Sunday.
The squads each registered wins without dropping a set in Fairbanks, Alaska.
The Yukon junior male team defeated Greenland 25-16, 25-17 and Yukon’s junior female team topped Nunavut 26-24, 25-22.
Both Yukon teams had to overcome some nerves before finding their groove, said the coaches.
“There were definitely first-game jitters,” said Yukon junior female head coach Kasia Leary. “I think they’ll play better the next game once they are used to everything. For some of them this is their first Arctics and it’s hard to get over the nerves.”
“Everyone had the jitters to start with, that’s when the mistakes were made,” said Yukon junior male head coach Peter Grundmanis.
“We got everyone in. We thought about leaving a group in to get a feel for the Games, but it was our only match today and we wanted to get everyone involved before the (opening) ceremonies,” he added. “We mixed it up and took both sets quite easily.
“We made a few errors on our side that made it closer than it should have been, but ultimately the boys executed when they needed to and we got the result we wanted.”
Trailing by a few points midway through the second set, Yukon’s junior females took a 14-13 lead on a block from Tatum Koser, before going on a six-point run on the serve of Tayla McNally.
Yukon arrived at match point on a missed Nunavut serve before Koser found a back corner with a kill to end the match.
Volleyball teams at the Games have some of the busiest schedules this week in Fairbanks. Each team will play 10 matches this week in the double round-robin before the start of the playoffs on Thursday.
Both Yukon squads have three matches scheduled for Monday. The female squad will face, N.W.T., North Alberta and defending gold-medalists Alaska. The Yukon males will face North Alberta, Alaska and Nunavut.
“Their biggest thing is communication and teamwork,” said Leary. “When they’re having fun, talking, they play really well and that was the first thing they noticed after the game. They didn’t really talk. So if they talk tomorrow, they’ll be fine.”
Yukon’s junior female team won silver at the 2012 Arctic Games in Whitehorse for the territory’s best finish in the division since 1986.
The Yukon junior males won gold in 2012 for the first time in 26 years.
“It was a good warm-up game. Hopefully we can play together as a team better in our next game when we have harder competitors,” said Yukon captain/middle Kyle Wallace about Sunday’s game. “But overall, I think it was pretty good …
“It’s great to be here after all our training, it’s good to actually be at the Arctic Winter Games.”
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org