Canada drops its two matches at European Continental Cup

KETTERING, EnglandCanada’s national men’s sitting team gained some more valuable international experience Tuesday in its preparation for a Paralympic qualifying event later this year at the inaugural European Continental Cup.

The Canadians lost a close battle to Kazakhstan 25-23, 25-22, 22-25, 30-28 then fell to Bosnia-Herzegovina 25-17, 25-9, 25-13. The Canadians stand 0-3.

‘’We had a better showing in both our matches today and improved on many of the areas that we identified after yesterday's match (against Ukraine),’’ said Canada’s head coach Ian Halliday.  

‘’Against the Kazaks, we had 2 or 3 good opportunities to really take control of the match. Against Bosnia-Herzegovina we had an opportunity to measure ourselves against one of the best in the world.  I am very happy with our competitive level in that match.’’

Canada, Kazakhstan and Bosnia-Herzegovina are in pool A with Ukraine, Brazil, and Britain. Pool B teams are Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Russia and the U.S. The top four teams in each pool in the round robin advance to the playoff round.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is ranked second in the world and the Canadians, ranked 19th, had a great first set holding the lead several times.

‘’They are a very strong team and at times we showed we can compete with them,’’ said Canadian team captain, Austin Hinchey of Edmonton. ‘’It was an improvement from the last time we played them at the world championships and I'm happy about that."

The Canadians face Brazil and Britain on Wednesday.

The Canadian team members are: Jason Naval of Toronto, Douglas Learoyd and Mikael Bartholdy of Calgary, Austin Hinchey and Chad Drummond of Edmonton, Larry Matthews and David Marchand of St. Albert, Alta., Eric Dechaine of St. Lina, Alta., Jose Rebelo of St-Hubert, Que., and Gregory Stewart of Kamloops, Alta.

The staff members are: Ian Halliday, head coach; Raymond Sewell, assistant coach; Kerry MacDonald, head of delegation and Hilary Beck, athletic therapist – all from Calgary,

The European Continental Cup is the biggest and most important event in the sport before the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.

It is also Canada’s last major competition prior to the ParaPan Am Games  in Mexico in November which is the Olympic qualifying event.

Tournament website: http://www.volleyballengland.org/ECVD-Continental-Cup-2011/index.php