Canadian women's volleyball team opens Nations League with loss to Brazil

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RIMINI, ITALY — The Canadian women's volleyball team made its Nations League debut with a 3-1 (23-25, 25-11, 25-9, 25-14) loss Tuesday to Brazil.

The annual international men's and women's competition featuring the world's top 16 teams in each gender was cancelled in 2020 because of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian men's and women's squads will each play a 15-match preliminary round until June 23 in the Adriatic Sea resort town of Rimini, Italy.

The top four countries advance to the semifinals and finals.

The world governing body of volleyball, FIVB, says the competition will operate with COVID-19 countermeasures to "reduce the risk of virus transmission, including frequent testing, strict health and hygiene measures and an array of risk-mitigation protocols."

The Canadian men, ranked No. 10 in the world, have qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics starting July 23. Nations League is important preparation for them after a year of no matches as a team.

The Canadian men open with three matches in three days starting Friday against No. 3 United States, No. 5 Argentina and No. 1 Brazil.

Brazil's women rank third in the world. Canada is No. 18 and won a Challenger Cup to gain entry into Nations League.

The Brazilians outblocked Canada 19-5 on Tuesday. Kiera Van Ryk of Surrey, B.C., led Canada with 12 attack points.

The Canadian women face world No. 2 United States on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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