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Canada Volleyball´s perfect tournament sends team to 2020 Olympics

The Canadian men’s volleyball team were not going to let tickets to Tokyo slip through their fingers.

The men used a 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico on Sunday to clinch a spot at this summer’s Olympics during the NORCECA men’s Tokyo qualification tournament played at the Pacific Coliseum.

“This is amazing,” said Blair Bann, one of eight players making a return trip to the Games. “It’s a good feeling right now.

“Today we knew it was going to be all in. If we gave our best effort, we would be successful.” Canada, ranked seventh in the world, beat 24th-ranked Puerto Rico 25-21, 25-15, 25-15. The Canadians secured the Olympic berth by being the only undefeated team at the four-country tournament.

When the final point was scored players flooded the court, wrapping each other in hugs. Coach Glenn Hoag knelt on one knee and gave a fist pump.

“It gives you extra energy as a coach to get them to live that dream,” said Hoag, who also coached the team four years ago in Rio. “The guys have been so good at respecting the game plan. They were so focused. They have been like this all weekend.

“That’s what you need in such a stressful situation.”

An exciting 3-2 victory over Cuba Saturday night put Canada in the driver’s seat heading into the final day of the three-day competition.

The men’s Olympic dream looked in peril after they dropped the first two sets versus 18th-ranked Cuba by identical 25-22 scores. They averted disaster by winning the next three sets 25-12, 25-21 and 15-9.

The Canadian men qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after an absence from the Summer Games of almost a quarter-century. The 12th-seeded Canadians bowed out to Russia in the quarterfinals. Hoag believes this year’s team can be a contender in Tokyo.

His job is under heavy scrutiny with many people expecting him to leave the club by the end of the season at the latest.

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