Canada won the NORCECA Women’s Continental Championship bronze medal over host Puerto Rico 3-0 (26-24, 25-13, 25-20) on Sunday at Roberto Clemente Coliseum of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The victory was especially sweet as Canada had lost to Puerto Rico 3-0 earlier in the tournament, and in the 2015 edition the team lost the bronze to Puerto Rico 3-1.
Ben Josephson, Canada’s coach, said: “The difference from our first match against Puerto Rico is three things: my staff really worked hard to make sure we learned from what we didn’t do, they got it to the athletes and the players digested to execute it well.”
The first set had its share of drama, as Canada missed five-set points 24-19 and Puerto Rico’s strength in serves and powerful kills managed to even the set at 24. Overall, Canada led with huge 42-25 margin in attacks, 8-6 in blocks and 8-4 in aces. Puerto Rico committed fewer errors (18-22).
Alexa Gray was Canada’s top scorer with a match-high 21 points on 17 kills and four blocks; Kiera Van Ryk had 13 points including four aces, and Emily Maglio contributed 12 points. Puerto Rico’s top scorer was Paulina Prieto with 10 points.
“We always want to peak once we get to playoffs and I think we did a great job following our game plan,” said Gray. “Our serving pressure the first time we faced Puerto Rico wasn’t as good and today it dialed in, hitting our spots and put them in trouble. I am proud of how we recovered in the third set. We have a lot of heart and in January we will give it our all.”
At this tournament, Canada also secured a spot in the January 2020 zonal Olympic qualifier.
The Dominican Republic ended up in gold-medal position, while the U.S. took silver after a five-set match this evening.
This is Canada’s ninth bronze medal in the history of the event of an overall 11 medals (two silvers). The last time Canada reached the NORCECA podium was in 1999 winning bronze.
#1 Jessie Niles, Turner Valley, AB
#3 Kiera Van Ryk, Surrey, BC
#4 Kyla Richey (C), Roberts Creek, BC
#5 Danielle Smith, Beaverlodge, AB
#8 Alicia Ogoms, Winnipeg, MB
#9 Alexa Gray, Calgary, AB
#12 Jennifer Cross, Scarborough, ON
#13 Brie King, Langley, BC
#14 Hilary Howe, Calgary, AB
#16 Shainah Joseph, Ottawa, ON
#17 Kristen Moncks, Standard, AB
#19 Marie-Alex Bélanger, Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez, QC
#20 Alicia Perrin, Creston, BC
#23 Emily Maglio, Coquitlam, BC
Head Coach: Ben Josephson
Assistant Coach: Joseph Trinsey
Assistant Coach: Shannon Winzer
Team Manager: Cody Piwowar-Desilets
Physiotherapist: Fraser Perry
Statistician: Christophe Elek