The road to Italy goes through Australia for Canadian men’s volleyball team

OTTAWACanada’s men’s national volleyball team heads to Australia Monday for a two-week trip that will combine training and matches against their host.  Both countries are in the midst of preparations for the world championships this September in Italy.


The Canadians leave their training base in Gatineau, Que., on Monday June 21 bound for Brisbane.  They will also have stays in Canberra at the Australian Institute of Sport and complete the trip in Melbourne.  They will play exhibition matches against the Australian national team June 24 and 26 and July 2 and 3.  The Canadians return home on July 4.


The 14-member Canadian team, lead by head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que., is comprised of Louis-Pierre Mainville of Notre-Dame-de-l’Isle, Que., Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., Adam Kaminski of Chatham, Ont., Justin Duff of Winnipeg, Dustin Schneider of Brandon, Man., Joshua Howatson of Victoria, Jeremy Wilcox of Calgary, Fred Winters of Victoria, Steve Gotch of Okotoks, Alta., Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., Nicholas Cundy of Edmonton, Dallas Soonias of Red Deer, Alta., Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon and Benoit Raymond of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que.


“The team is very excited about this opportunity to go to Australia,” said Cundy, in his seventh season on the national team.  “Since we returned from the Pan Am Cup, our training has intensified so we’re going down there ready to continue our preparations.  In addition to have a few games against a quality opponent that is really going to help us.”


Last month, the Canadians opened their international season at the Pan Am Cup in Puerto Rico and placed fifth with two wins and two losses.  Both their losses, to Brazil and Puerto Rico, were in the maximum five sets.


 ‘’There are a lot of areas we need to focus on particularly at the physical and technical level,’’ said Hoag.  ‘’We shown strength in many areas while in other areas, such as offence, we are putting more emphasis because that’s where we struggled a bit at the Pan Am Cup.’’


Most of the Canadian players spent their winters playing overseas in pro leagues in Europe including Howatson and Soonias who led Almeria to the Spanish title while Cundy helped his squad to second place in Portugal.


‘’It’s still early in our preparations so it is important we allow our players to properly recover from the winter seasons so they can be at the top of their game in September,’’ said Hoag.