Canada wrapped up a successful NORCECA senior women’s volleyball Continental Championship performance with a bronze medal after defeating Cuba in four sets (25-21, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16) in Quebec City on Sunday.
The Canadian team entered the third-place match coming off a semifinal loss to two-time defending champion Dominican Republic in four sets on Saturday after taking down Mexico and Puerto Rico without losing a set on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively in pool play.
Canada got back to its winning ways in the first set versus a Cuban squad that fell in three sets to the United States in the semis, with Kiera Van Ryk leading the way with six points.
Canada was up 24-18 in the opening set when Cuba turned the tide with three consecutive points, forcing Canada to take a timeout.
Vicky Savard of Jonquiere, Que., responded to Canada’s regroup by spiking the ball for the set-winner — her lone point of the set.
Cuba put together a strong start in the second half to take an 8-4 lead early, but Canada rattled off seven consecutive points — four by Van Ryk — to regain the lead, and eventually took the set 25-17.
The flashes that Cuba showed in the first two sets finally started to break through with their backs versus the wall, jumping out to a 15-4 lead.
Canada tried to claw its way back, but Greisy Fine Martinez collected six of her team-leading 16 points in the set as Cuba held on to win 25-17 to stave off the loss.
“I thought the third set was messy, but while we struggled again with first contact in the first two sets, we showed some patience,” Canada head coach Shannon Winzer said in a release. “We know that we are a physical team, compared with Cuba, and we really wanted to show that today.
“It wasn’t the cleanest volleyball we have played this week, but we did what we had to do to pull off the win. I think it was a real team effort today.”
Van Ryk was once again dominant in the fourth set with seven points, as Canada cruised to a 25-16 victory to claim bronze in front of the home crowd.
The Surrey, B.C., native paced Canada with 24 points and 20 attacks overall, while Jazmine White of Oshawa, Ont., led the way with six blocks — three of which came in the clinching fourth set — and delivered the game-winning ace.
The Dominican Republic captured gold later on Sunday with a five-set victory over the U.S. (12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13).
Canada’s next stop is the Olympic Qualification tournament in China, taking place Sept. 16 to 24.
“This is preparation for the Olympic qualifier – we wanted to try out some subs in a few different situations and we wanted to try out different lineups and starting rotations,” Winzer said. “Coming away top three in NORCECA is excellent, but it’s also good preparation.
“We had a chance to play the Dominican team, who we will face again in China, and we had a good showing against them and learned a lot.”