Canada bounces Cuba to net senior women's VCC bronze medal

QUEBEC — Canada will crank up the intensity for China and Olympic qualification in the coming days, but head coach Shannon Winzer was thrilled her squad was able to close off a challenging week by claiming a bronze medal in the NORCECA senior women's Volleyball Continental Championship on Sunday.

Canada thrilled the sold-out crowd at the PEPS’ Amphithéatre Desjardins-Université Laval by defeating Cuba 25-21, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16 to finish on the podium in the six-day, seven-country tournament.

Kiera Van Ryk of Surrey, B.C., again led all scoring with 24 points, followed by teammates Jazmine White (14 points, six blocks) of Oshawa, Ont., Hilary Howe of Calgary (10) and Emily Maglio (10) of Coquitlam, B.C. Greisy Fine led fourth-place Cuba in scoring with 16 points.

Canada’s offence produced 53 attack points, compared with 47 for Cuba, while Canada dominated in blocking (16-8). Cuba led in service aces 7-5 and errors were 17-18 in Canada’s favour.

“I thought the third set was messy, but while we struggled again with first contact in the first two sets, we showed some patience,” said Winzer.

“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.”

Canada’s next big test is the Olympic qualification tournament in China, from 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," said Winzer.

"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.”

Howe, who was superb throughout the tournament, said the goal in Quebec City was gold, but was happy her team found its energy to net bronze after a tough semifinal loss to the Dominican Republic — 25-27, 22-25, 25-23, 20-25 — on Saturday night that took one hour, 43 minutes to play.

“ … The bronze-medal match is always challenging when you want to be in the final. But I’m proud that we pulled it together and did the best we could to get the medal and finish strong in the tournament. It was good for us to come together and compete again before the Olympic qualifier," said Howe.

The Dominican Republic claimed gold by defeating the United States in a thrilling five-set match 12-25, 25-21, 19-25, 25-19, 15-13.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press