It is never easy to play the home team, even with boisterous Yukoners in attendance at most events at the Canada Summer Games in PEI.
Thursday afternoon at the CARI Complex in Charlottetown, the Yukon boys’ volleyball team ended the Games with a 25-17, 25-20, 25-20 loss to PEI.
Although supportive spectators are always a factor, Yukon’s biggest obstacle was a slow start, allowing the home team to go on three separate scoring sprees of four, or more, points in the first set.
“In the first few sets we were a little flatfooted; we really weren’t into it for some reason,” said Yukon’s Robin Stuckey. “In the third one we got some rallies and got fired up a little bit.”
The Yukon squad looked to be turning things around in the third, taking a four-point lead at 12-8 – their only in the match – but a big-serve later helped give PEI eight straight points to go up 22-17.
“We got some momentum there – we got going there a bit,” said Yukon’s
Kaleb Dawe, who led the team in kills and digs with 13 and five.
“We had a couple blocks, a couple good swings, but kind of trailed off once their one spin-server (Carmichael) there got going – we couldn’t pass it.”
“We were doing good for a bit, but then we were having passing problems and they aced us a few times,” added Yukon’s Jon Hodgins. “They got, like, five aces that game, which really took us back.”
Although winless, the Yukon at least picked up a set in the tournament in a 25-17, 25-17, 22-25, 25-20 loss to Newfoundland on Tuesday. For many of the Yukon team, that was their best match of the Games.
“Everyone was just ripping everything and we were super positive out there,” said Stuckey. “We were just having a good game, so I think that one was best.
“We got a set and that was one of our goals as a team.”
According to Hodgins, winning the set was not the only source of satisfaction, having also managed to get balls past a monster blocker on the Newfoundland team.
“They did have a six-foot, 11-inch offside, which is way bigger than any player on our team,” said Hodgins. “Our biggest player is six-foot, four inches.
“It was hard – he was hitting over our blockers. It was hard to defend against him.”
Earlier in the Games the Yukon boys also took losses to Ontario (25-10, 25-8, 25-8), Nova Scotia (25-16, 25-14, 27-25), Quebec (25-12, 25-19, 25-15) and Saskatchewan (25-17, 25-19, 25-15).
“This is probably the best experience for the younger players,” said Dawe. “They got a lot of experience here.”
It may prove money in the bank because six Yukon boys are young enough to play in the Summer Games in four years. But perhaps the biggest benefit to Yukon volleyball would be a higher level of competition in the territory.
“We definitely didn’t have a lot of competition coming here; we were just playing against each other and a couple guys that were too old to come to the Games,” said Stuckey. “I think every game we got a little bit better. Obviously we weren’t expected to win much, so we went out there to have fun and play hard – it had its ups and downs, but it was fun.”
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