Canada wins group, headed to semis at NORCECA Championships

MAYAGUEZ, Puerto Rico – Canada defeated Puerto Rico 25-17, 25-20, 25-17 to grab first place in Group A and a bye to the semifinals at the North and Central America and Caribbean men’s volleyball championships.

The Canadians, ranked 22nd in the world, conclude the round robin with three wins and no losses.   Puerto Rico (2-1), ranked 15th, and Mexico (1-2), ranked 21st, placed second and third in the group and play in the quarters on Thursday.

It was third time this month, Canada had defeated the Puerto Ricans. Two weeks ago in Kingston, Ont., Canada swept a two-match series to qualify for the 2012 World League. Counting World League qualifying and a tournament victory in Europe, the Canadians have now reeled off nine straight wins.

Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon led the Canadian attack with 19 including three on service aces. Fred Winters of Victoria added nine and Toon Van Lankvelt of River, Man., seven.

In the other Group A match, Mexico defeated winless St-Lucia 25-16, 25-14, 25-22.

In Group B, the top-seeded Americans, ranked third in the world, defeated Cuba 24-26, 25-23, 25-23, 25-17 to clinch top spot at 3-0 and a spot in the semis. Cuba (2-1), ranked sixth internationally, and Trinidad and Tobago (1-2) head to the quarters.

The quarterfinal match-ups for Thursday are Cuba-Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago-Puerto Rico. 

The top-two teams here earn a berth at the World Cup final November 20 to December 4 in Tokyo. The top-three teams at the World Cup final qualify for the Olympic Games.

Canadian roster for the NORCECA men’s volleyball championships August 29 to September 3, 2011 in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico

Players: Steve Brinkman, Bowmanville, Ont.; Nicholas Cundy, Edmonton; Josh Howatson, Victoria; Dan Lewis, Oakville, Ont.; Gord Perrin, Creston, B.C.; Gavin Schmitt, Saskatoon; Dustin Schneider, Brandon, Man.; Adam Simac, Ottawa; Alexandre Gaumont-Casias, Marieville, Que.; Toon Van Lankvelt, River, Man.; Fred Winters, Victoria; Justin Duff, Winnipeg.

Head coach: Glenn Hoag, Gatineau, Que.

Assistant coach: Vincent Pichette, Gatineau

Team manager; Julien Boucher, Quebec City.

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For more information: www.volleyball.ca and www.norceca.org