Canada men’s volleyball spikes upward despite Olympic qualifying setback
Ottawa, ON, Canada (AHN Sports) – Despite falling one win short of qualifying for this year’s Olympic Summer Games in London, Canada’s men’s volleyball team remains in high spirits and aims to continue its current direction.
Canada’s Olympic hopes were dashed when it fell to the defending Olympic champs United States in the final of the NORCECA competition in California.
The Canadians earned a bye to the semis with an impeccable 3-0 record during pool play. In the semis, the 18th-ranked Canada team overcame a 2-1 deficit and knocked out Puerto Rico in five sets.
The national men’s volleyball squad hoped to carry the momentum in the final for its first Olympic appearance in 20 years, but succumbed to the American side, 28-26, 25-18, 22-20.
On its way the final, Canada toppled fifth-ranked Cuba, 25-21, 25-17, 25-21 in its final game of pool play last Wednesday.
It would have been Canada’s first men’s volleyball team sent to the Olympics since 1992 had they prevailed over the United States in the finale.
Despite the disappointing setback, veteran Dan Lewis indicated he and his teammates do not feel any need for sympathy.
“For me, it’s about closing the gap right now between the best teams in the world and where Canada is,” Lewis said via InsideHalton.com.
“We are doing that. We are closing this gap. It’s been six years to try to get into this tournament final, and we got into the final. That was a six-year project with so many failures on the way. Sometimes that step has to come before the Olympic step. Four years from now, we’ll see if that step was enough to make the next step,” added Canada’s veteran libero (defensive specialist who plays in the back row).
In the meantime, Canada will continue to work on their current achievements with the focus this time on the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
Lewis, who has played professionally in Spain, Switzerland, France, Poland and Slovenia, believes that Canada’s participation in the World League tournament will enhance the country’s next Olympic bid.
“Even if we lose every single match, we have to get so much out of this,” the 36-year-old Oakville native Lewis said of the World League competition.
“You have to take every chance, experience, situation, and learn how to excecute when the pressure’s on,” he added.
Canada is set to play 12 matches in the World League tournament, which begins this weekend at Toronto’s Ricoh Coliseum. They will clash with world No. 1 Brazil or fourth-ranked Poland in eight of those matches.