Men’s and women’s teams off to a solid start at NORCECA World Qualifiers

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Canada’s men’s and women’s teams are so far undefeated at their respective World Championship Qualification tournaments.

In Colorado Springs, the men’s team finished pool play undefeated after its 25-21, 25-12, 25-10 victory over a spirited Trinidad & Tobago on Thursday at the NORCECA Men’s Continental Championship at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

After Trinidad & Tobago played a tough first set, Canada’s serving wore down the Caribbean team. Canada led in aces (10-2) as well as spike (39-23) and blocks (7-3). Trinidad & Tobago scored 15 points on Canada’s errors while committing 19.

Canada’s head coach Stephane Antiga said: “Today was more difficult than yesterday (in a sweep of St. Lucia). The first set was very difficult. We could see that they were a good team. Than the second set was much better, we were more active, more aggressive, so I was very satisfied with the two last sets.”

The men are vying for one of three World Championships berths.

In Langley, BC, the home crowd enjoyed a quick and decisive match at the NORCECA Senior Women’s Continental Championship and World Championship Qualification Tournament (Group B) on Thursday night.

Canada out-powered the smaller St. Lucian squad from the first whistle, wrapping it up in 54 minutes: 3-0 (25-8, 25-8, 25-8).

Match top scorer was Alicia Ogoms (Winnipeg, MB) with 13 points, followed by Alissa Coulter (Calgary, AB) with 11 for the Canadian team.

“I thought overall we just tried to focus on our side of the net. I thought we did a really good job in keeping St. Lucia’s scores under 10 and limiting our errors.  I’m really happy with how we performed today,” said Ogoms.

In the third set, St. Lucia put on more of a challenge early on, and even kept up with Canada to tie at five, but Canada quickly re-grouped to keep the Caribbean side in check.

The top two teams from this tournament earn a berth at the Women’s World Championships in Japan next year.

Marcello Abbondanza, head coach of Canada, commented: “I appreciate the spirit in which St. Lucia played; I think they tried to give everything they had and this is what sport is about.  I think my team was focused and just tried to play our best volleyball. Tomorrow we have Nicaragua and we have to try to have our best to qualify (in the top two) for the World Championships. Then we can think about Cuba (on Saturday).”

The men have Friday off, while the women play Nicaragua tonight at 8 pm local time.

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