With round-robin play coming to an end today at the Universiade games, Canada's women's volleyball team has a lot to look back on in their two days off before the medal and consolation rounds start on Thursday.
After losses to Spain and South Korea in the first two games, and a strong win over Hong Kong today, Canada is left out of the medal rounds, but hopes to have a strong finish on the consolation side.
According to head coach Norman Bouchard, this tournament is about experience and development for the young Canadian team, which only played together for about two weeks before suiting up for the Universiade in Daegu, South Korea.
"We had one week of training in June, and a week in Japan right before coming to Korea," says Bouchard. "We had some practice games against Japan to help prepare us for international play. This is the first international competition for all of the girls on the team, so Japan was a very good experience for us.°±
With the speed and style of International play being quite different from the more aggressive Dino's fare, Calgary's Tracy Keats and Amanda Moppett have been learning to tailor their talents to a new kind of game. The quicker pace and greater defensive strengths of the teams from Japan and Korea have been challenging, but are serving as a real learning experience.
"We haven't had a lot of experience working together in international matches yet, but it's getting better every game. The next one will be even better," says Keats of her time with the team so far.
Her confidence was well founded, as Canada bested their latest opponents, Hong Kong, in three straight sets tonight, setting up some momentum as the team heads into the final stage of the tournament.
Moppett echoed the thoughts of her teammate, saying that the team is fitting together well.
"It's not just about working together on the court," she said. "We have to get to know each other off the court too. You can't just say 'Ok, get to know each other, now go win.' We are our competition all year, so it takes some effort to get everything working together, and we're doing really well.°±
On a personal note, Moppett adds that it's more about the entire experience than the results of the tournament.
"Even if the volleyball doesn't go well, you just become a better person all together," she said. "Going to Japan, coming to Korea, you have to take something away with you."
The women's next match has them pitted against Great Britain on Thursday at 1:30 P.M. local time.