By Martin Boyce
Ottawa native Jackson Dunning completed his youth volleyball career with one last hurrah in his hometown before heading off to Ryerson University to join the Rams varsity men’s team.
The Maverick Volleyball Club player scored a bronze medal in the 18-and-under men’s competition from the Aug. 18-20 Youth Beach Nationals at Shefford Park in Gloucester.
Dunning and partner Tariq Sani steamrolled most of the competition throughout the weekend, dropping just 1 set in 6 matches to enter the playoffs undefeated. They edged an Alberta pair 21-19, 21-19 in the quarter-finals before losing the semi-final to the eventual champions, and then received the bronze by injury default.
“I think we played pretty well. Luckily I’ve got a pretty good partner,” smiles Dunning, motioning to his teammate from the GTA, a U21 Canadian national team player.
Dunning’s latest podium performance comes on the heels of titles from both high school and club provincials with the Franco-Cité Faucons and the Maverick 18U boys’ team that included Canada Summer Games champion brothers Max and Alex St-Denis.
“Overall my season has been pretty good,” underlines Dunning, noting he focused his summertime efforts more on beach volleyball, which led to 3 tournament wins – each with a different partner.
The libero says he’s now “excited” to join the Ryerson volleyball family and begin his mechanical engineering degree.
More Mavs medals
A pair of local 16U girls’ pairs won silver medals in their competitions. Portia Cooper and Allison Cooney lost 21-19, 20-22, 17-19 in a hard-fought Tier 3 final, while Andrea Camire and Michaela Jones lost their Tier 2 final in straight sets.
“We’re not as tall as the rest of the girls here, so were more cutting it and putting it short rather than banging it hard,” Jones says of the strategy employed by the teammates who won 16U Eastern Canadian bronze with the Mavs earlier this year.
Team Ontario players Max Losier and Jack Laine-Hebert came into the tournament as one of the favourites after a silver at provincials, but lost in the first round of the 16U Tier 1 playoffs.
“We probably could’ve done more but overall we’re pretty happy with the weekend,” signals Laine-Hebert.
The nationals featured a total of 125 teams from 7 provinces competing on 31 courts at the Max Volley facility.