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

Benjamin Poudou, Mount MacIntyre’s ski club manager, poses for a photo in the club’s ski rental area on Nov. 16. The club has sold around 1,850 passes already this year, compared to 1067 passes on Oct. 31 last year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Early season ski pass sales up as Yukoners prepare for pandemic winter

Season passe sales at Mount McIntyre for cross-country skiing are up by around 60 per cent this year

The City of Whitehorse will be spending $655,000 to upgrade the waste heat recovery system at the Canada Games Centre. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New waste heat recovery system coming to the CGC

Council approves $655,000 project

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate education advocates and volunteers help to sort and distribute Christmas hamper grocery boxes outside Elijah Smith Elementary School on Feb. 23. (Rebecca Bradford Andrew/Submitted)
First Nation Education Directorate begins Christmas hamper program

Pick-ups for hampers are scheduled at local schools

Cyrine Candido, cashier, right, wipes down the new plexi-glass dividers at Superstore on March 28, before it was commonplace for them to wear masks. The Yukon government is relaunching the Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program as the second wave of COVID-19 begins to take place in the territory. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Yukon Essential Workers Income Support Program extended to 32 weeks

More than 100 businesses in the territory applied for the first phase of the program

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Keith Lay speaks at a city council meeting on Dec. 4, 2017. Lay provided the lone submission to council on the city’s proposed $33 million capital spending plan for 2021 on Nov. 23, taking issue with a number of projects outlined. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Resident raises issues with city’s capital budget

Council to vote on budget in December

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

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

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Most Read