Canada’s national women’s volleyball team ready for worlds

OSAKA, Japan – The Canadian national women’s volleyball team is expected to be in a fierce battle for that final spot in the second round when the 24-country world championships get underway next Friday in five Japanese cities.

Canada ranked 24th in the world is in Pool D with number-three China, number-seven and defending champions Russia, Dominican Republic 11th,  South Korea (21st), and Turkey (22nd). Each team plays its pool opponent once in the opening round and the top-four move on to the second round.

“There are four pools and this one is by far the toughest,” said Canadian national team coach Arnd Ludwig. “We worked a lot this summer and physically our girls are prepared for the world championships. (Our strengths) are our height, jumping ability and blocking.”

While all the players are competing at their first worlds, the team can field some savvy veterans such as team captain Tammy Mahon of Holland, Man., and Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont.

Mahon is a nine-year national team veteran with plenty of professional experience. She was one of three Canadians that played for the pro squad ion Baiku, Azerbaijan last season.

“Over the years, my perspective has changed so much,” Mahon told the Toronto Sun. “It has changed from something that I want for me, to something I want for Team Canada volleyball and my country.”

She highlighted her side's win over Cuba in a three-match series earlier this month as a cause for optimism. "In nine years we've only beaten Cuba twice," Mahon noted. "You have to learn how to win and our team is in the process of learning how to win right now. It's slow, but it's happening."

Pavan made an immediate impact in her return to the national team this year, leading Canada in scoring several matches.

The 6’5” right side had a standout career with the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the NCAA winning the 2006 national title and was named the NCAA’s female athlete of the year (all sports combined) in 2007. She has also played professionally in
Italy.

Canada opens the tournament Friday against South Korea, followed by China on Saturday, Russia on Sunday (October 31), Turkey on November 2 and the Dominican November 3. All pool D matches are in Osaka.

Brazil, the U.S., and China are the top-three seeds this year.

Canadian roster for women’s world volleyball championships October 29-November 10 in Japan.

Setters

Lauren O’Reilly (Langley, BC), Carla Bradstock (Richmond, BC)

Outside Hitters

Tammy Mahon (Holland, MB), Tiffany Dodds (Lucky Lake, SK), Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, ON), Brittney Page (Vernon, BC), Kyla Richey (Roberts Creek, BC), Tonya Mokelki (Weyburn, SK)

Middle

Marisa Field (Kelowna, BC), Nadine Alphonse (Montreal, QC), Tasha Holness (Calgary, AB), Jennifer Hinze (Vancouver, BC)

Libero

Julie Young (Red Deer, AB), Janie Guimond (Becancour, QC)