May 16, 2014, Mississauga, Ontario (ISN) – Both Canada’s men’s and women’s teams got a step closer to qualifying for the World Championships with wins at the qualification matches today at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.

In the opening game of the third round, Pool Q, of the NORCECA Men’s World Championship Qualification, Canada’s men’s team beat Panama in three sets, 25-17, 25-12,  25-18.

“It’s going to take a while; it’s our first match together in a while,” said Hoag, who just came back together after the pro season in the last few weeks. “We need to work this out; we need to focus on our game. Panama changed rotation three times in three sets, but it’s good. It forces us to focus and probably creates more problems for them than it does for us.”  

Canada opposite Gavin Schmitt of Saskatoon, Sask., led his team with 18 points, and 14 spikes. Ruben Cuero lmanaged nine points as Panama’s top scorer. 

On the women’s side, Canada also did not disappoint their fans earlier today as they faced Jamaica in the third-round, Pool S, of the NORCECA Women’s World Championship Qualification, winning 25-09, 25-10, 25-9.

Manitoba-native Tabitha Love led Canada with 14 points and 10 spikes, followed by Kyla Richey (11) of Robert’s Creek, BC, and captain Brittney Page of Vernon, BC, with 10 points.

“We were pretty prepared coming into this, and it is like playing on our home court, which is rare for us. So we really wanted to do well.  Jamaica is very physical and athletic, so they can always depend on that, but we were ready for them and it worked out well today,” said Page.

“It was a good focused, concentrated performance here today,” said Arnd (Lupo) Ludwig, Canada’s women’s coach.  “Always the first game of a tournament is a bit unknown, but I’m really happy with how the women played, served, and just about everything in today’s match.”

Jamaica’s Tahleia Bishop led her team with six points. The outside hitter was born and raised in nearby Whitby, Ontario, and attends college in Buffalo, New York.

In the first game of the day on the women’s side, Mexico beat an inconsistent U.S. Virgin Islands team in three sets, 25-12, 25-14, 25-19.

“This game is going to help us get our rhythm because we’re a new team. We’re going to use this to help us get better tomorrow. We’re going to take it step by step because the most important games are going to be against Jamaica and Canada,” said Jorge Miguel Azair, Head Coach of Mexico’s women’s team.

In the opening men’s game earlier on Friday, a more experienced Trinidad fell to Costa Rica in five sets: 25-17, 23-25, 20-25, 25-18, 13-15. Earning 26 points for Trinidad, Richard Smith Hall looked solid on the court today, and credited his team with for their support throughout the match.

“The game was a difficult game. We knew that Trinidad would be good. We practised for this game – this first game was our game, and we will try to win again tomorrow against Panama.  It’s step by step. The whole team played well tonight. We are not just a team, we are a family,”  said Smith Hall, the team’s captain.

The tournament continues daily with men’s and women’s games at 2, 4, 6 and 8 pm each day through to Monday when teams go for gold and a chance to represent their country at the World Championships.

All games are streamed live at http://volleyballsourcemag.com/2014-world-championships-qualifiers