volleyball canada

December 4, 2013 (ISN) – The FIVB’s premier annual women’s volleyball tournament, the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix, has followed in the footsteps of the men’s Volleyball World League and expanded to 28 countries – an increase of eight teams including Canada.

“This is great news for our team,” said Canada’s women’s head coach, Arnd Ludwig. “We have a very promising group of young athletes who are very physical and very talented. Last year we had a very high practice volume and we have built a very good foundation. Now it is important to take the next step.”

Canada last competed in the Grand Prix in 2003, finishing in 11th place.

The 28 countries have been split across 19 pools with 12 – defending champions and world No. 1 Brazil, USA, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, Serbia, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Korea, Turkey and Thailand – playing in Pools A to I while eight – Poland, Peru, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Belgium – are in Pools J to O. Pools P to S also includes eight teams: Kenya, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Bulgaria and Australia.

The distribution was based on world ranking with the exceptions of Belgium and Cuba, who had qualified via continental qualification tournaments, and Australia who participate as part of the Oceania development program. A draw was conducted during the meeting to determine which positions each country fills in the pool distribution.

The Canadian women’s team is ranked 20th in the FIVB ranking, up three spots since 2012.

“We need to get experience in games on a high level. Participating in the Grand Prix gives us exactly that opportunity: playing against top teams for at least three weekends in a row,” explained Ludwig.

“It is a very good preparation for the World Championship 2014 in Italy, and it is even more important for the development of the program in the next four to 10 years.”

The FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix 2014 will start on July 25 with Pools J (which includes Canada) to O and Pools P to S in action. Pools A to I will begin proceedings one week later on August 1.

The World Grand Prix featured eight teams in its debut season of 1993 and from 1995 to 2002, while 12 teams were in action in 1994 and from 2003 to 2010. Sixteen teams were involved in the 2011 and 2012 editions before expanding to 20 in 2013.

Full Grand Prix release, including pool composition, here: