With neither of the other territories sending boys volleyball teams, Yukon’s boys had only provinces to deal with at the Western Canada Summer Games last week.
But the team’s goal of taking a set off a province didn’t just happen early, it happened twice.
On their final day of competition, the Yukon boys pushed Saskatchewan to four sets in a 25-23, 25-18, 23-25, 25-15 loss on Friday.
“In the first set we lost by two, and there were probably two or three calls that should have gone our way, but didn’t,” said Yukon captain Robin Smith. “If we got two of those calls we would have won the set.
“I think we could have won that match if we took the first set.”
Thoughts of defeating Saskatchewan came before the Games even began.
Competing at the National Team Challenge Cup at the National Training Centre in Gatineau, Quebec, last month, the Yukon boys got an early look at some of the teams they would face in Kamloops.
“I thought we could have done better here; I thought we could definitely have beaten Saskatchewan,” said Smith. “I saw them in Gatineau and I thought we could take them because we didn’t bring (Derek) Anderson or Jeremy Mann, so we didn’t have them when we played them in Gatineau. So I thought, with those two boys, we’d be able to beat them.”
Yukon also took a set off of eventual bronze medal winning BC in the first day of competition, losing 23-25, 25-13, 25-19, 25-12. It was just the second time Yukon took a set off a province in a major Games.
“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 following the BC game. “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.”
“They weren’t at the National Training Centre, so we knew they’d probably take us lightly,” said Smith. “We were ready to go, came out strong.
“Their next sets were strong because they knew we were a tough team and they had to put their best (players) in.”
Yukon’s boys ended the Games with a 25-11, 25-12, 25-19 loss to Alberta on Friday.
“They were tough,” said Smith. “I think they better than everyone else by quite a bit. They are a level above everyone else.”
As it turned, Smith was right – Alberta won gold, beating Manitoba on Sunday. Yukon lost 25-19, 25-17, 35-13 to Manitoba on Thursday to start the Games.
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