Canada’s top volleyball women hope the home crowd can help bump up their world standing next week in the Calgary area.
That’s when they’ll take to the court of Tsuut’ina Nation’s 7 Chiefs Sportsplex for Week 3 action of the 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League campaign.
“Playing at home in Canada is an opportunity not many of our athletes have ever experienced before, and this is something we have been talking about since it was announced,” said Canadian women’s volleyball head coach Shannon Winzer. “Being able to play against the best in the world here in Calgary is the exposure our sport needs and our athletes deserve.”
Included on Canada’s roster are two Calgarians — current Canadian VNL top scorer Alexa Gray and starter Hilary Howe.
They’ll lead Canada (3-5) into four games on the local floor, beginning Tuesday and running through Sunday, July 3.
“I’m super excited to be playing in Calgary again,” said Gray, a graduate of Centennial High School, the Dinos volleyball club and the NCAA’s BYU Cougars who now plays professionally in Italy. “It’s been 10 years since I was able to play in my home city with my friends and family watching. We are hoping for a decent crowd so that we can feed off of their energy for the last four games of the Volleyball Nations League.
“I know there is a big volleyball community here in Calgary, and I’m hoping they are able to come out a few games and see what this sport looks like at the highest level. It’s very exciting to watch and be apart of. We will be playing against some the best players in the world, and we will need our home-court advantage at every game. We have made big steps as a program the last few years, so we are looking forward to showing that off during these games.”
The v-ball action begins Tuesday (8 p.m.) against Turkey (5-3) and follows with respective Friday (8 p.m.), Saturday (8 p.m.) and Sunday (5 p.m.) matches against Serbia (5-3), Germany (2-6) and Netherlands (1-7).
Belgium, Japan and the reigning Olympic champion American squad round out the countries represented in Calgary. Each team will play four matches — all at 7 Chiefs Sportsplex.
“Like every round, this is going to be a tough round with no easy games,” Winzer said. “But I think we’re going to see some pretty exciting volleyball with some tough battles.”
Canada — ranked 18th in the world and in its first year playing VNL on the women’s side — is coming off a 1-3 week in Quezon City, Philippines.
The Canucks topped Belgium 3-1 but lost respective 3-0, 3-1 and 3-0 matches to Thailand, China and Bulgaria.
They’re hoping a dose of home cooking helps turn the losing trend around.
“We’re very excited to be bringing Volleyball Nations League to Calgary,” said Mark Eckert, CEO of Volleyball Canada. “Not only will we witness the best of our sport, but VNL is also great entertainment value whether you’re a seasoned fan or new to volleyball.
“The 7 Chiefs venue staff and Tsuut’ina Nation have been very accommodating during our planning process, and we’re looking forward to six action-packed days showcasing this complex and, of course, highlighting our Canadian team.”
The 2022 FIVB Volleyball Nations League features the best 16 men’s and 16 women’s participating teams fighting for VNL supremacy at venues in Europe, North America, South America and Asia starting this May. This year’s edition has a new, dynamic format which includes teams competing in pools of eight teams, and the top eight teams per gender, including the host, then moving to the final knockout phase of the competition.
Tickets are available at www.volleyball.ca.
#13 Brie King, Surrey, B.C.
#12 Jennifer Cross (Captain), Scarborough, Ont.
#19 Emily Maglio, Coquitlam, B.C.
#6 Jazmine White, Oshawa, Ont.
#14 Hilary Howe, Calgary, Alta.
#11 Andrea Mitrovic, Mississauga, Ont.
#9 Alexa Gray, Calgary, Alta.
#16 Caroline Livingston, Kelowna, B.C.
#3 Kiera Van Ryk, Surrey, B.C.
#25 Sydney Grills, Vancouver, B.C.
#5 Julia Murmann, Toronto, Ont.
#8 Alicia Ogoms, Winnipeg, Man.
#20 Arielle Palermo, Burlington, Ont.
#10 Courtney Baker, Bridgewater, N.S.