Women's team wins Challenger Cup ! Photo: FIVB

Canada’s women’s volleyball team has qualified for next year’s FIVB Volleyball Nations League after winning the Women’s Challenger Cup in Lima, Peru, on Sunday night.

Canada looked dominant in the first two sets, but then Czech Republic tried to claw its way back into the match. Canada prevailed 2-3 (17-25, 16-25, 25-21, 25-23, 8-15) for the gutsy win.

“It was such an emotional match – this one will be remembered,” said Canada’s coach Tom Black. “Unbelievable resilience by this team. So many contributions in the second half of the match to find a way and finally regain control of the fifth set. I am so proud to be part of this program, and the extraordinary athletes, coaches and staff that make it up. We will enjoy this for a moment and then regroup to continue building for the future.”

Black added that the team and staff are all concerned about player Autumn Bailey, who went down with an injury mid-way through the match, and they are waiting to hear more about her condition.

In today’s contest, Alexa Gray dominated scoring with 27 points, followed by Jennifer Cross with 16. Michaela Mlejnkova had 17 points for the Czech side.

Czech Republic’s bright spot was their serving (14-4), but it wasn’t enough to hold back a determined Canada, who won all four matches of the tournament.

As the winner of the Volleyball Challenger Cup, Canada will replace the bottom-ranked of the Challenger teams in the VNL for women in 2020.

FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup Roster
#1 Jessie Niles, Turner Valley, AB
#2 Autumn Bailey, Burlington, ON
#3 Kiera Van Ryk, Surrey, BC
#4 Kyla Richey (C), Roberts Creek, B.C.
#5 Danielle Smith, Beaverlodge, AB
#8 Alicia Ogoms, Winnipeg, MB
#9 Alexa Gray, Calgary, AB
#11 Andrea Mitrovic, Mississauga, ON
#12 Jennifer Cross, Scarborough, ON
#16 Shainah Joseph, Ottawa, ON
#17 Kristen Moncks, Standard, AB
#20 Alicia Perrin, Creston, BC
#22 Megan Cyr, St. Andrews, MB
#23 Emily Maglio, Coquitlam, BC

The team will now travel to the Pan Am Cup in Trujillo, Peru (July 4 to 15), with a minor change to the roster of Brie O’Reilly (King) of Langley, BC replacing Megan Cyr.