Newfoundland and Labrador’s female volleyball team was down one set to Ontario in a preliminary-round match Tuesday at the 2017 Canada Summer Games, but a point had put the NL squad up 18-14 in the second set against a team that is a medal favourite in the event.
“I tried not to, but I knew we were doing so well, I had to look at the score,” said Clarenville’s Emma Hackett. “We played this same (Ontario) team in (a tourney) in Florida and I think we didn’t get 10 (points) in a single set against them.
“Maybe not everyone watching knew it, but that was a pretty big moment for us. So there may have been a tiny little moment where we all took it in.”
As it turned out, Ontario rallied for a 25-20 win in the set played at the University of Manitoba, en route to a three-set sweep of the Newfoundland team, which is winless in three matches.
“The losses are tough … they’re disappointing. But as the tournament has progressed, we’ve been getting stronger and stronger and that’s what our goal has been,” said head coach Nathan Wareham of Corner Brook. “You saw it (in that set).
“The thing is we know can play with that (Ontario) team, but today it was more than knowing. Today, we actually showed it, and that’s important
“The difference is that at this level, you have to sustain what got you to that point throughout the entire match, and we’re still learning to do that.”
Newfoundland and Labrador, which lost to Quebec and Alberta on Monday, goes into its final preliminary matches today against the Northwest Territories and New Brunswick knowing it will be eventually play in the placement round to determine its final ranking.
But Wareham says the team has already gotten a measure of itself.
“It’s a measuring stick. We don’t get to see this level of competition on a consistent basis, so I think there were some jitters starting out here,” he said. “That’s a finely-tuned (Ontario) team. They’re playing at a high rate is how I would say it, and we’re still playing a little bit of catch-up.
“But we are catching up.”
Hackett, an 18-year-old who is headed to Memorial University to play for the Sea-Hawks in the fall, suggests she and her teammates are beyond wondering how they will fare against a particular opponent here in Winnipeg.
“We kind of evade that question,” she said with a smile. “I don’t think we want to ask it anymore. I don’t think we need to ask it anymore.
“In past years, I think that was a weakness with Newfoundland teams.
“We know every team here is great. They have all skill. They all have spirit. They all work hard, but just like we do.
“By the end of the week, we’ll find out where we finish, but we won’t spend this week worrying about how we will do against this team or that team. We will be prepared and we will play them as they come.
“And there will be no doubt in ourselves, no matter what the score says in the end.”