Territories will clash in a fight to avoid last place on Friday.
Yukon and N.W.T., in both the male and female volleyball divisions, will meet in their final matches Aug. 11 at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg. The winners will take 11th, the losers 12th.
“They have some taller, bigger blockers, and if we can run our offence quickly we can avoid getting doubled blocked or triple blocked,” said Yukon male team head coach D’Arcy Hill. “On the defensive end, we’re just going to try to make sure we get the ball up and give ourselves a chance to attack on any situation.
“Win or lose, we just want to play well.”
N.W.T. didn’t field volleyball teams — male or female — at the Canada Summer Games in 2009 and 2013, but that doesn’t mean the two territories haven’t crossed paths at other Games.
For Yukon’s male team, today’s game will also be about keeping a decade-long win streak over N.W.T. going. Yukon has defeated N.W.T. in male volleyball at least the last 10 times the territories have met at major Games. Yukon defeated N.W.T. the last five Arctic Winter Games and the 2015 Western Canada Summer Games. (N.W.T. didn’t enter a male team in the 2011 westerns.) The win streak might even extend farther, but information peters out at the 2006 Arctics.
It’s a different story for Yukon’s female team; they’ll be trying to end a losing streak against the rival territory. Yukon went winless against N.W.T. at the last two Arctic Games and the western Games in between. A Yukon female team hasn’t logged a win over the neighbours to the east at a major Games since the 2012 Arctics.
Yukon’s male team went winless in the round robin this week with straight-set losses to B.C., Quebec, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and P.E.I. They then lost to Newfoundland 25-10, 25-21, 25-13 to start the placement round yesterday. N.W.T., who are also winless, lost in four sets to P.E.I. in their first placement game.
“We’ve actually had a really good week, we’ve played really well,” said Hill. “Obviously the competition has been very tough and now we’re ending up in a game where it’s going to be a back and forth match, I think.”
Yukon’s female team is also winless, but they came pretty darn close to putting a check in the ‘W’ column earlier this week.
They went the distance against P.E.I., losing 21-25, 27-25, 25-17, 18-25, 15-4. It marks the first set wins for Yukon in female volleyball at the Canada Games since 2005, getting shut down in straight sets in every match in 2009 and 2013.
Also of note: Yukon defeated N.W.T. in female volleyball at the 2005 Games.
Yukon lost in straight sets to Manitoba, B.C. (after playing P.E.I.), Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia in pool play this week, and lost 25-21, 25-12, 25-20 to Newfoundland to start the placement round on Thursday.
“They have been absolutely terrific in the sense that they haven’t been negative about the experience at all, they keep trying, they do what they’re supposed to do, and every game they’re learning, doing new things, improving things,” said Yukon female team head coach Melissa Laluk in an interview Aug. 8.
Contact Tom Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org