Canada ready to make some noise at men’s world volleyball championships

GATINEAU, Que. – The Canadian men’s volleyball team faces a major challenge to advance from its pool at the FIVB men’s world volleyball championships which starts in a little over two weeks but head coach Glenn Hoag is confident success is possible if the game plan is followed to a tee.

Hoag and his 14–member squad held their final training session on Friday at their home base in Gatineau before they leave for Europe on Sunday to get acclimatized for the worlds set for six cities in Italy September 25 to October 10.

“The strength of our team is our collective play,” said Hoag, who played for Canada at the 1984 Olympics. “And we’ve shown this year that when we play this way we can hold our own against the best squads in the world.”

There are three returning members from the team that placed 11th at the 2006 worlds. Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., Louis-Pierre Mainville of Notre-Dame de l’Isle, Que., and Fred Winters of Victoria. Still Canada has a team that knows the international game well.

Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., and Josh Howatson of Victoria played big roles in helping Almeria to the Spanish League title this past winter. Howatson was named the Spanish Cup’s MVP. 

Power hitter Schmitt rocked the South Korean pro league with the Samsung Bluefangs. He led the circuit in scoring, attacking and aces and was named the league’s MVP. Adam Simac of Ottawa, who played with Franken in Germany has developed into a solid middle blocker.

Also playing pro in Europe last season were Nicholas Cundy of Edmonton, Dustin Addison-Schneider of Brandon, Man., Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man.,  and Adam Kaminski of Chatham, Ont.

Also on the team are Olivier Faucher of Plessisville, Que., Gord Perrin of Creston, B.C., and Justin Duff of Winnipeg who starred in Canadian university volleyball with Laval, Trinity Western and Winnipeg respectively.

At the world championships, Canada, ranked 20th in the world, is in Pool F with number-four Serbia, number-six Poland and number-11 Germany. The round robin matches for that pool will be played in Trieste. The top-three from the pool move on.

Prior to the worlds, the Canadians will land in Prague Monday for three matches against the Czech Republic. The Czechs are ranked 36th in the world but qualified for the 24-country world championships as well.

“The Czechs are always a tough team,” said Hoag. “They are a good match for us because they are a very physical team and their style of play compares to the countries in our pool.”

After Prague, the team heads for its final preparation stage in Bled, Slovenia, about a two-hour car ride from Trieste. Hoag was the head coach of the professional volleyball team in Bled which reached the final four in the Champions League this past season.

Canada opens its world championship tournament September 25th against Poland, followed by matches September 26 vs Serbia and September 27 against Germany.

Canadian roster for the men’s world volleyball championships September 25-October 10 in Italy

Players: Dallas Soonias, Red Deer, Alta.; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Louis-Pierre Mainville, Notre-Dame de l’Isle, Que.; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Nicolas Cundy, Edmonton; Toon Van Lankvelt, Rivers, Man.; Frederic Winters, Victoria; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Adam Kaminski, Chatham, Ont.; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Olivier Faucher of Plessisville, Que.; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Justin Duff, Winnipeg.

Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau

Team manager: Julien Boucher, Quebec City