Volleyball Canada announces team for men’s Olympic qualifier
OTTAWA – Veterans Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., and Fred Winters of Victoria and rising international star Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon headline Canada’s 12-member men’s volleyball team for the Olympic qualifying tournament May 7-12 in Long Beach, Calif.
The winner of the tournament earns a ticket to the 2012 Games in London.
‘’We had a high quality training period with a lot of intensity,’’ said Canada’s head coach Glenn Hoag of Gatineau, Que. ‘’I was very pleased. We could only bring 12 players so it was tough selection. It was a talented group in training and they all brought something important to the team.’’
Hoag has been pleased with Canada’s performances over the last couple of seasons which included qualifying for the World League for the first time in five years last summer. He wants to maintain the same playing system for 2012.
‘’What’s been successful is that we have consistently improved,’’ said Hoag. ‘’The players have improved, gained experience and now there is a new level of maturity on this team.’’
Schmitt, who enjoyed another superb pro season in South Korea leading his squad to the league title and repeating as league MVP, says the players picked up where they left off last season coming back from their pro assignments.
‘’Nothing had to be reestablished in training and everyone was on the same page,’’ said Schmitt. ‘’The guys did their homework and we feel good about our situation.’’
Canada, ranked 18th in the world, is in Group B with Cuba (world number-five), Puerto Rico (17) and the Dominican Republic (46). Group A is comprised of the U.S., (6), Mexico (23) and Trinidad and Tobago (33).
‘’There’s no doubt we have a tall order to win this tournament but we’ve had success in the past against those countries, ’’said Schmitt. ‘’And we are coming off a very successful summer. We’re pumped to play.’’
The Canadians open round robin play May 7 against the Dominicans followed by matches May 8 against Puerto Rico and May 9 vs Cuba. Last year, Canada knocked Puerto Rico out of the World League winning both matches in a two-match qualifying series and also beat them twice at the Pan Am Cup.
The Canadians also downed the Dominican Republic and Mexico at the same Pan Am Cup. In 2010, Canada earned one win in three matches against Cuba in a world championships warm-up series.
Canada’s last appearance in men’s volleyball at the Olympics was in 1992.