• March 20, 2023

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Canadian women bring perspective, experience into 2nd Volleyball Nations League season

There were many lessons learned in the Canadian women’s first-ever forage in the prestigious Volleyball Nations League (VNL) last season. Now the young squad is ready for year No. 2. 

Head coach Shannon Winzer revealed her 14-player roster Tuesday ahead of the first leg of competition this week in Shreveport-Bossier City, La., which runs through Sunday.

Canada will play Poland, the Dominican Republic, Olympic champion United States and Korea then head to the Philippines for the second leg before returning to Canada for the third leg from June 28 to July 3 just outside of Calgary at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex, Tsuut’ina Nation. 

The women’s finals for 2022 will be held in Ankara, Turkey in July.

Outside of the Olympics and world championships, which take place this fall in the Netherlands, Volleyball Nations League is the top international competition in the sport. Of the 16 teams, 12 are core nations plus four challengers, of which Canada is one. The last-place challenger team will be relegated and have to compete in the 2022 Women’s Challenger Cup in Croatia to earn their spot back.

Canada, ranked No. 18 in the world, finished with a 3-12 record last year, which was held in a bubble in Rimini, Italy. The U.S. were the overall women’s winner in 2021, followed by Brazil and Japan.

The biggest lesson from their first-ever appearance in VNL was perspective, Winzer said on a recent call with CBC Sports. 

“We really did a good job of knowing that we’re going to make mistakes. It’s a learning curve. I think we did a really good job of doing the simple things well, but when we weren’t always able to do the big things we’re like, ‘That’s where we are,’ and next year we’re going to make less of those mistakes. 

“Our goal is the Olympics in 2024 and then 2028 and we’re going to be realistic on where we are on our journey and not get down on the things we can’t control and the things that need to happen before the next thing can happen. We did an excellent job of that.” 

The Canadian women’s volleyball team hasn’t made an Olympic Games since Atlanta in 1996. 

Canada’s big goals this campaign are to stay in VNL and to make the second round of the world championships. With Olympic qualifying beginning in the fall of 2023, Winzer feels they need to consistently play top-flight competition in order to improve. 

“Only 12 teams in the world go [to the Olympics] and we’re ranked No. 18. These big tournaments are not just important for us because of ranking points, but this is the second summer we’re going to play 12 games against the best teams in the world. Last year we played 15 games against the best teams in the world. You’re going to improve.” 

Steve Carr

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