The road to the Olympics starts in Puerto Rico for Canadian men’s volleyball team

OTTAWA – With a World League berth wrapped up, the Canadian men’s volleyball team now turns its attention to gaining a spot at the 2012 Olympic Games. The first opportunity towards that goal starts on Monday at the NORCECA Championships in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

The top two teams at the eight-country competition, which runs until September 3, qualify for the World Cup Final November 20 to December 4 in Japan. The top-three teams at the World Cup final qualify for the Olympic Games.

Canada heads into the NORCECA tournament with a hot hand. Over the past month it defeated Slovakia and Puerto Rico in qualifying to earn a ticket to the 2012 World League volleyball tournament which offers the richest purse in the sport. 

The Canadians also went undefeated to win a four-country tournament in Estonia, in between their two World League qualifying series. 

The Canadian roster for the NORCECA tournament is: 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.

At the NORCECA Championships Canada ranked 22nd in the world is in Group A with Puerto Rico (ranked 15th), Mexico (ranked 21st) and St. Lucia (87th). Group B is comprised of the U.S., (3rd), Cuba (6th), Trinidad and Tobago (64th) and Costa Rica (68th).

In round robin play, the Canadians face Mexico on Monday, St. Lucia on Tuesday and Puerto Rico Wednesday. The first place team in each pool gets a bye to the semifinals on Friday while second and third cross over in the quarterfinals on Thursday. The placement matches are Saturday.

Canadian roster for the NORCECA men’s volleyball championships August 27 to September 3, 2011 in Miyaguez, 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