It was a golden summer for the Team Saskatchewan Men’s Volleyball program.
The program took home a pair of gold medals at the Canada Cup and the Canada Summer Games., topping Alberta in the gold medal game in both tournaments.
Ethan Smith, a libero from Prince Albert, says having won in Canada Cup was extra motivation for the rematch against Alberta in the Canada Summer Games.
“We had the X on our backs. It was really exciting to play such a good team and come out on top.”
It was a process for Smith to represent his home province. He says he had trained for years to make the team.
“It’s been a dream of mine to play at Canada Games for a long time. It means a lot to be able to play for Team Sask and to win a gold medal two times this summer this well.”
Smith was not the only player with local connections to be a part of the gold medal winning teams. Outside hitter Brock Tomyn of Prince Albert and setter Noah Opseth of Birch Hills were also on the squad. Opseth says the accomplishment is so special because of the timeframe it took place in.
“It’s a pretty rare experience for any single person. I’ve talked to people who have been to Canada Cup and Canada Games before and it’s almost impossible to go back-to-back to win both. “
Opseth says it felt like an underdog moment straight out of a movie,
“For our team to be able to do it, it’s a huge accomplishment. Especially with the guys we have, we’re all Sask guys, all small town guys. Kind of like a Cinderella story, but we weren’t the Cinderella story really because we were the best team there.”
Both Smith and Opseth red-shirted last season for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies Men’s Volleyball program while Tomyn played for the Lakeland College Rustlers in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC).
Opseth says the summer of success will provide some huge momentum going into the collegiate season, especially since other U of S teammates were also a part of the gold medal teams.
“I think this just builds confidence for our program for the future. It shows we have the guys that can compete with the best in the nation. It makes us all want to play for each other the entire time.”
The 2022 Canada Summer Games took place in Niagara, Ontario while the Canada Cup took place at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation just southwest of Calgary, Alberta.