Preparations for World University Games men’s volleyball team on track
By Larry McKay, head coach
The Men's FISU Games Team, Team Canada, is here in Maribor Slovenia for an intense week of competitions. The team is using the week to prepare for the World University Games in Shenzen, China in mid-August.
Arriving after 28 hours of travel the team wasted no time in hitting the court for a practice and workout conducted by team physio Luc Campbell.
The following morning, Qatar was the opponent and Team Canada won all five sets the two teams played. Sander Ratsep (London ON, Dalhousie) and Joren Zeeman (Cambridge ON, Queens) led the attack with 25 and 24 kills respectively. That evening Team Canada faced a strong opponent in the Tunisian National Team.
Shrugging off the sluggishness of the travel and time zone changes (7 hours ahead of Central Standard Time) Team Canada was defeated in all four sets by a narrow margin. Team Tunisia used an excellent attack to score versus Canada. They were the best team we had faced in our young program. Though it was a tough loss to take for our collection of Canada's finest university and college volleyball players, Team Canada looked forward to their next opportunity. Spencer Leiske (Red Deer, AB, U of Alberta) had 28 kills while Blair Bann (Edmonton AB, UBC) was superlative with 14 digs.
Day 3, Monday, began with a practice working on serving, serve reception and Team Canada setters Ciaran McGovern (Grande Prairie AB, U of Calgary) and Jay Blankenau (Sherwood Park, AB, U of Calgary). In the evening the team faced Team Cameroon. Cameroon has a large group of players here and they put their youngest on the court for this match. Team Canada won all four sets. Rudy Verhoeff (Calgary AB, Trinity Western University) was the most efficient spiker with a .567 average on 21 attempts. Pierre-Alexis Lapointe (La Malbaie QC, Laval) also registered a swing but was excellent on serve reception with 25 perfect attempts.
Day 4, Tuesday saw the team rematch with the Tunisian National Team. Eager to play versus the best team Canada had faced thus far, the team played well in the first two sets but fell just short of victory. In set 3 however, the team won 25-15. Citing fatigue, the Tunisian side requested the match conclude with that set. In Team Canada's best performance, Karl de Grandpre (Sorel QC, Laval) was an excellent attacker with 18 kills and Mark Howatson (Victoria, BC, TWU) made many strong plays on serve reception, serving and attack.
Day 5 will see Team Canada face the Slovenian National Team and Team Cameroon.