Canadian women discard Norway at Universiade

KAZAN, Russia (July 8, 2013) – The Canadian women’s volleyball team kicked off the Universiade tournament in winning fashion Monday afternoon, sweeping Norway in three quick sets of 25-21, 25-14 and 25-19.

The success moves Canada one step closer to its first quarter-final appearance at the FISU tournament since an eighth-place finish in Beijing in 2001. The red and white will play its second and final Pool B match Wednesday at 3 p.m. local time (7 a.m. ET) against Brazil. Algeria, which was also set to be in the group, withdrew just before the start of the competition.

The Canucks will be tested against the Brazilians, the defending champions from the 2011 Universiade in Shenzhen, China.

“I’m happy we’re moving closer to the quarters but I would have loved to play Algeria,” said head coach Arnd Ludwig, who is also at the helm of the senior national team. “I would have preferred to play an extra match rather than have an additional day off.”

Lisa Barclay of Brandon, Man. (UBC), and Alicia Perrin of Creston, B.C. (Trinity Western University), paced the winners on offence with 11 and eight kills, respectively. Perrin added three blocks.

Shanice Marcelle of Victoria (UBC), who carried the Canadian flag into Saturday night’s opening ceremonies, had an overall solid performance with five kills, three blocks and 12 digs.

“We were still a little tired going into the contest, but we wanted to have a solid game to prove that we’re a good team,” said Perrin, who also wore the Maple Leaf in Shenzhen two years ago. “We’ve been training since April and we have lots of experience. We want to put women’s volleyball on the map.”

The Canadians got off to a great start and jumped out to quick leads of 5-1 and 8-4 in the opening frame. Their Scandinavian rivals didn’t give up however and came back to within three at 16-13, and then to within one at 19-18 after capitalizing on a number of Canadian errors.

Canada didn’t panic and closed out the set with three straight points, the last one on a Marcelle kill.

“We were a little shaky at the start but considering we’ve only been here for a few days, it was to be expected,” Ludwig said. “We were much better in the second set and really showed what we can do.”

The teams exchanged service errors to open the middle stanza. Norway once again kept things close until 14-12 but Canada then exploded with seven straight points en route to the easy win in under 20 minutes.

In the third and final set, the winners got off to another solid start, only to see their rivals mount yet another comeback and close to within one, at 14-13. With Lucy Charuk of Tsawwassen, B.C. (Houston) on serve, the Canadians put the contest away with a 7-0 run.

Hilde Elvebakk tallied a match-high 13 kills for Norway in a losing cause.

BOXSCORE: Canada vs Norway