The Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia had some hometown flavour as Fort St. John's Dana Cranston was among the many athletes representing Canada at the games. The games were the first for Cranston as a member of Team Canada at a major competition.
Cranston and her teammates didn’t have long to rest after a long day of flying when they first arrived. The team assembled later that day for the opening ceremonies, but Cranston says it was neat to take part in the event.
“It was really cool; it took like 30 hours to get to Russia with all the connections and layovers,” she says. “We were pretty tired when we got there, and we slept for three hours and had to get up, the opening ceremonies were that night. We were lined up and waiting, it was really cool but everyone was so tired, but we finally got to the entrance of the stadium, and just getting out there was the coolest thing ever. Everybody forgot about how far we travelled or how tired we were, it was unreal, it almost brought me to tears looking up in the crowd.”
The butterflies were definitely present for Cranston and the team as the squad entered their first game against Norway, but were able to come out on top in the end.
” We didn’t really know what they were going to be like,” she explains. “It was two days after we had got there, so we weren’t really adjusted to the time zone, so just getting used to all that was nerve-wracking but we pulled out the win.”
Cranston found herself in a supporting role as the tournament began, however she worked her way into the lineup, and ended up starting the final game of the tournament.
“The whole first half, and a little bit more, I was a sub going in when people were struggling or needed a change up, and it was cool, it was definitely a bit of a different look for me, but I learned a lot through it,” Cranston says. “I’m glad I got to experience that. It was cool to be able to be the voice on the bench. By the end of the tournament I started our last game, so it was a really cool turnaround.”
Unsure of what to expect heading into the game as a starter, Cranston was able to keep level headed as she had the required support from her teammates.
“It was cool. I didn’t know what it was going to be like, just because I had never started with that team before,” she admits. “I was pretty calm considering the circumstances, but my teammates helped me a lot on the court. It was cool to give back to the program that way.”
Overall, the team finished the games in sixth place, the best finish they’ve had in women’s volleyball since 1997.
Next up for Cranston’s schedule is a series in Winnipeg with the national team as they take on Peru at the end of the month. Following that, she’ll attempt to make the travelling team through the volleyball governing body NORCECA in the middle of September.