by Braden Konschuh, U of Regina Athletics
University of Regina men’s volleyball head coach Greg Barthel guided Canada’s Junior National team to a second-place finish at the 11-team NORCECA Men’s Junior championship, held over the past five days at the national training centre in Gatineau, Que.
Along with Chris Howe of the UBC Okanagan Heat the Team Canada roster is loaded with Canada West players:
Colin Carson, Thompson Rivers WolfPack
Lukas Van Berkel, Trinity Western Spartans
Branden Schmidt, Trinity Western Spartans
Tristan Aubry, Alberta Golden Bears
Justin Olmstead, Alberta Golden Bears
Matthew McCreary, Alberta Golden Bears
Ian Perry, UBC Thunderbirds
Bryan Fraser, Saskatchewan Huskies
Matthew Schriemer, Winnipeg Wesmen
TJ Sanders, Manitoba Bisons
Assistant Coach Brad Poplawski, Alberta Golden Bears
Canada’s performance at the tournament was highlighted by a four-set upset over Cuba in the semifinals on Friday. Barthel’s team beat the top-seeded Cubans 22-25, 25-19, 25-7, 25-15 to clinch a spot in the finals and an automatic berth to the 2011 Junior World championship.
In the championship final on Saturday, Canada lost a three-set (25-14, 25-19, 25-16) decision to the United States to end up with the silver medal.
“It was a great tournament for us,” Barthel said. “It hurts right now but I’m sure later we’ll appreciate what we accomplished here. I think it will just make us hungrier for next year at the World Juniors.”
Canada, which entered the tournament at No. 23 in the FIVB world junior rankings, opened the tournament on Tuesday with a four-set win over Guatemala. Canada followed that up with a straight-sets win over the Dominican Republic on Thursday to nail down a first-place finish in Pool A.
The 2011 Junior World championship will be held in Brazil. Puerto Rico will join the United States and Canada as the three automatic qualifiers from the North, Central America and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation (NORCECA).