A local volleyball player’s international journey is over after helping Team Canada to a top 15 finish.
Campbell River’s Emoni Bush, 16, wrapped up play at the FIVB Volleyball Girls’ U18 World Championships on the weekend.
After a win over Thailand in their penultimate game, the team was playing for 13th place against Korea.
The Canadians had bested them earlier in the tournament during pool play 3-1. While Canada was off to an early two-set lead, they ultimately fell 2-3 (25-11, 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 10-15) to finish 14th overall.
Bush had 14 points in their final game.
“Today we played some of our best volleyball of the entire tournament,” said head coach Scott Koskie after their match on Saturday. “The girls were very focused and it showed in the way we started and played for the majority of the match. Unfortunately, we learned a hard lesson about international volleyball at the end of the fourth set, and we could not recover in the fifth.”
The loss caps over a week of play at the international tournament, where 20 of the world’s best U18 girls volleyball teams were battling on the court. Pool play lasted for five days, while the knockout and classification matches took place over the final four days.
The United States won gold, while Italy, which was going for its third consecutive gold medal, settled for silver. Brazil took home bronze.
First up was Brazil. The team lost 3-0 and was relegated to classification matches.
“We were having success with our game plan and generating some opportunities to score points, but could not capitalize consistently later in the set,” said Koskie of the loss. “We had our chances in the middle and later part of the third set to move in front, but again could not take advantage.”
Canada then fell to Bulgaria 3-1 and on Friday played Thailand for a shot to play for 13th place.
The team rallied and came out with a 3-2 victory.
The Canadians have been eating, sleeping and breathing volleyball for the past couple weeks.
Bush, who is one of two British Columbians on the 17-girl squad, travelled to Ontario and then to Slovenia ahead of the tournament for training.
“For more than three weeks, we have been immersed in a volleyball environment and the girls never stopped giving everything they had,” said Koskie. “We could not be prouder of this group and the work they put in to compete at this tournament.”
Bush, who is a member of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation, qualified for the national team back in June.
The program is meant to help identify and nurture young talent for the senior national team.