WINNIPEG, Manitoba (ISN) – Trinity Western women’s volleyball setter Kelci French (Okotoks, Alta.) was named to Canada’s 12-player roster for the NORCECA Olympic qualification tournament to be held in Tijuana, Mexico April 29-May 5.
Volleyball Canada announced the roster Monday that will compete for a spot in the 2012 Summer Games in London and French was one of two setters who will represent the red and white. Canada, which is ranked No. 22 in the world, must in win the tournament to guarantee itself a spot in the Olympics.
The last time the Canadians competed at the Olympic Games was in 1996 in Atlanta when they finished in a tie for ninth.
French, who will be going into her second year with the Spartans this fall but third year of CIS eligibility – having played with Alberta in 2008-09 when she captured CIS Rookie of the Year honours – is quite familiar with the national program as she trained at the full-time centre in Winnipeg in the two years prior to coming to Trinity Western.
“Representing Canada in an attempt to qualify for the Olympics is something that I’ve been dreaming about since I was a little girl,” French said. “This is such an amazing opportunity and I am just so grateful and excited to be a part of it. Winning this tournament won’t be easy for anyone but I definitely think it is something we are capable of doing. No games will be easy but we’ll just have to come out strong, trust our preparation, and play our best.”
In her first year with the Spartans, French, who was largely used as an outside hitter while occasionally spelling now graduated fifth-year Chelsea Hudson (Winnipeg, Man.) at the setting position, was fourth on the team in points, averaging 2.25 per set while registering the second most digs on the team with 2.53 per set and the second most aces, with 27. She also had 1.92 assists per set and 1.54 kills per set.
“Going back to setting full time feels a little bit like coming home,” French said. “It really is where my heart lies. I love being able to be a hitter and, in a perfect world, I always think it’s fun to do both, but coming back to setting has me really excited about the upcoming season and I’m looking forward to having the whole summer to improve and just play a lot of volleyball.”
Also named to the 12-player roster were left-side hitters Tammy Mahon (Holland, Man.), Tonya Mokelki (Weyburn, Sask.), Liz Cordonier (Vancouver, B.C.) and Kyla Richey (Vancouver); middle blockers Jennifer Hinze (Vancouver), Marisa Field (Vancouver) and Tasha Holness (Calgary, Alta.); right-side hitters Sarah Pavan (Kitchener, Ont.) and Brittney Page (Vernon, B.C.); setter Jaclyn Ellis (Mississauga, Ont.); and libero Julie Young (Red Deer, Alta.).
Canada is in a round-robin pool with the Dominican Republic (ranked No. 9), Puerto Rico (19) and Honduras (69).
If Canada is successful in those matches, it would then cross over to the second round to face one of Cuba (10), Mexico (27), Costa Rica (28), or Trinidad & Tobago (34) in the quarter-final.
Canada’s schedule for NORCECA Olympic qualification tournament is as follows:
April 29: Round robin match #1 — Canada vs. Puerto Rico
April 30: Round robin match #2 — Canada vs. Dominican Republic
May 1: Round robin match #3 — Canada vs. Honduras
May 2: Quarter-finals
May 4: Semifinals
May 5: Final