Yukon volleyball team logs historic win at Canada Games

A close game between B.C. and Saskatchewan on centre court filled the volleyball complex with cheers and screams from fans. But it was in the smaller venue next door, with the bleachers half empty, where history was being written.
 

SHERBROOKE, QUE.

A close game between B.C. and Saskatchewan on centre court filled the volleyball complex with cheers and screams from fans. But it was in the smaller venue next door, with the bleachers half empty, where history was being written.

The Yukon men’s volleyball team became the first from the territory to defeat a province in Canada Summer Games history in Sherbrooke, Que., on Sunday.

It was a straight-set win, too, but by no means a blowout.

Yukon defeated Prince Edward Island 25-19, 25-20, 25-18 to become the first team from the territory to defeat a province in volleyball at a major Games, including the Western Canada Summer Games, male or female.

“It’s crazy,” said Yukon co-captain and libero Michael Hunter. “We’ve been together a long time and coming down here we didn’t really think we were going to take anyone, but we played well and when we saw (P.E.I.), we knew we could do it.

“We pushed hard and didn’t give up.”

“I’m just really happy with how we played against them – just really steady and made sure we played our game,” said Yukon co-captain and setter Lowell Tait. “Keeping our heads in it was the biggest thing. We’re a bunch of little guys, but we all have experience and we just played our game. Little things like serves, passing – if we could keep everything simple, we could pull it out.”

Yukon took early leads in each set and never trailed during the match. The team took the first set on a kill from Justin Dragoman, the only player from Dawson City.

Yukon snatched the second set on a big thunderbolt-esque spike from Mason Gray. Dragoman then capped the game with his eighth kill of the night.

Yukon right-side Albert Spycher, who delivered his team match point with a nifty tip, led the squad in kills with 10.

“Everyone played well,” said Hunter. “Lowell made good sets, Justin was pounding, Albert was doing well from the back row. Everyone did their part and that’s why we won, I think. No one had an off game.”

Yukon is now 1-3 at this week’s Games, opening with match-ups against a pair of powerhouses. Yukon lost 25-15, 25-11, 25-11 to Ontario and 25-10, 25-12, 25-12 to B.C. on Saturday. They then lost 25-16, 25-19, 25-14 to Saskatchewan early Sunday afternoon before the historic win.

P.E.I. was in the Yukon team’s crosshairs from the start. Head coach Russ Tait called it “our gold medal game,” earlier in the day.

“We’ve taken sets off provinces before at the (2011 Western Canada Summer Games) and I know at the last Canada Games (Yukon manager) Tory (Wiebe)’s team … took a set off Newfoundland, but nobody has ever won a match,” said Russ.

P.E.I. “is closer to our size,” he continued, “so when you’re not giving up eight inches it makes it real competitive. It’s a scrappy P.E.I. team.”

The Yukon squad will close out their pool’s round-robin with a match against Team Newfoundland and Labrador on Monday.

“We’ll stay positive, stay playing with a lot of energy and we’ll see what happens,” said Hunter. “We’ll try our best.”

The big win Sunday isn’t exactly out of nowhere.

Four players were on Yukon’s first gold winning team in 26 years at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games.

Six played for Yukon’s U18 men’s rep volleyball team, Sub Zero, last year. That team won Tier 3 to place 17th overall out of 64 of the country’s best teams at the nationals for the highest Yukon has ever finished at the nationals in the U18 men division.

Five played for Team Yukon at the 2011 Western Canada Summer Games in Kamloops, a squad that took sets off Saskatchewan and bronze-winning B.C.

There are also four players – Lowell, Grey, Hunter and Spycher – who played at the post-secondary level last season.

Contact Tom Patrick at tomp@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Maria Metzen off the start line of the Yukon Dog Mushers Association’s sled dog race on Jan. 9. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Mushers race in preparation for FirstMate Babe Southwick

The annual race is set for Feb. 12 and 13.

The Yukon government is making changes to the medical travel system, including doubling the per diem and making destinations for medical services more flexible. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Subsidy for medical travel doubled with more supports coming

The change was recommended in the Putting People First report endorsed by the government

Chloe Sergerie, who was fined $500 under the <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> on Jan. 12, says she made the safest choice available to her when she entered the territory. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Woman fined $500 under CEMA says she made ‘safest decision’ available

Filling out a declaration at the airport was contrary to self-isolation, says accused

The Yukon Department of Education building in Whitehorse on Dec. 22, 2020. Advocates are calling on the Department of Education to reverse their redefinition of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) that led to 138 students losing the program this year. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
Advocates call redefinition of IEPs “hugely concerning,” call for reversal

At least 138 students were moved off the learning plans this year

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Your Northern regulatory adventure awaits!

“Your Northern adventure awaits!” blared the headline on a recent YESAB assessment… Continue reading

Yukoner Shirley Chua-Tan is taking on the role of vice-chair of the social inclusion working group with the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences’ oversight panel and working groups for the autism assessment. (Submitted)
Canadian Academy of Health Sciences names Yukoner to panel

Shirley Chua-Tan is well-known for a number of roles she plays in… Continue reading

The Fish Lake area viewed from the top of Haeckel Hill on Sept. 11, 2018. The Yukon government and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced they are in the beginning stages of a local area planning process for the area. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Local area planning for Fish Lake announced

The Government of Yukon and Kwanlin Dün First Nation (KDFN) announced in… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Fire damage, photographed on Jan. 11, to a downtown apartment building which occurred late in the evening on Jan. 8. Zander Firth, 20, from Inuvik, was charged with the arson and is facing several other charges following his Jan. 12 court appearance. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
More charges for arson suspect

The Inuvik man charged in relation to the fire at Ryder Apartments… Continue reading

The grace period for the new Yukon lobbyist registry has come to an end and those who seek to influence politicians will now need to report their efforts to a public database. (Mike Thomas/Yukon News file)
Grace period for new lobbyist registry ends

So far nine lobbyists have registered their activities with politicians in the territory

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21, 2020. Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive up to $20,000 to help recover from losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Details released on relief funding for tourism and culture non-profits

Some Yukon tourism and culture non-profit organizations may be eligible to receive… Continue reading

Most Read