Canada secures Paris 2024 qualification in men’s volleyball
The Canadian men’s volleyball team stamped their ticket to Paris 2024 as pool runners-up at the Men’s Olympic Volleyball Qualifying Tournament in Xi’an, China.
Canada finished in second place with a record of five wins and two losses in Pool C play. It will be Canada’s third consecutive and sixth overall appearance at the Olympic Games. Their best result was a fourth place at Los Angeles 1984.
Facing the Netherlands in their first match, Canada pulled off a five-set win, before securing a convincing 3-1 upset victory over Argentina.
The Canadians’ first defeat came against Poland, who went unbeaten in the tournament. However, Canada gave the world’s top-ranked team a tough time, as the match ended in a tie-break. The Canadians then bounced back to win their clash with China in three straight sets. Stephen Maar, Arthur Szwarc, and Eric Loeppky have consistently been among Canada’s top scorers in the first four games.
Canada pulled off another win in three straight sets over Bulgaria, before falling 1-3 to Belgium. At the start of the day, Belgium had the best chance of joining Pool C winners Poland in Paris. In a dramatic turn of events and despite having no shot at the top two spots in the final pool standings, Bulgaria pulled off a surprising five-set victory over Belgium. Now all the Canadians had to do was win against Mexico and that’s exactly what they did.
In their final tournament match on Sunday, Canada breezed to a 3-0 win over Mexico to secure their spot at Paris 2024. Canada led in attack (39-33), dominated in both blocking (13-5) and aces (8-1), but did admit more error points to Mexico (17-15).
“It was an important game after yesterday,” said Team Captain and two-time Olympian Nicholas Hoag. “It was disappointing and scary to be in that position, but we got another opportunity today and we took it. We stepped up and we had also beat the teams we needed to earlier in the tournament. I’m really happy with the way the guys performed; we got the job done. The celebration starts and we will have the year to prepare for Paris!”
Argentina, who finished third and outside qualification, also had a 5-2 record but fewer points than Canada.
“It’s unbelievable,” said head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. “I’m just so happy for volleyball in Canada, and the history of what people have done for many years with this program to now consistently be in the Olympics (third consecutive appearance). I would like to thank the players, not only the ones here in China, but also those that have given so much effort to this program during the summer, as well as the coaching staff that have been part of the program. It’s an unbelievable moment and being in the Olympics is huge, as it represents the country.”
Three Olympic qualifying tournaments are being held simultaneously in three different cities. The top two teams in each tournament will earn their pass to Paris 2024. The round-robin tournament comes to an end on Sunday. Men’s Pool C included Argentina, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland and hosts China.