While the Canadian women were working their way toward a silver medal in Edmonton at the NORCECA Challenger, the Canadian Men’s National Team swept a pair of friendlies against North American foes Mexico last week. They won the first match 3-0, and then on Friday won the 2nd match by the same score (25-20, 25-18, 25-20) and then won a bonus set as well.
“It was super cool. It’s an awesome experience playing in front of our friends and family here at home,” said 19-year old outside hitter Eric Loeppky, who played for Canada at the 2017 U-21 World Championships and contributed 15 points to Friday’s win.
“It was nice to get into a rhythm playing Mexico a couple times this week. They are a little bit smaller, but very experienced. They’ve got a lot of shots, and they play very smart. It’s a little different than the junior level, where the players don’t have this kind of experience. These guys obviously know how to play; they were a couple tough matches.”
“It was a good match. We came in with a few goals – some holes in our game we wanted to fix,” Edmonton native Ryley Barnes said after the match. “It’s nice to see some guys with good energy out there, and I think the team is happy with how we played today.”
Mexican coach Jorge Azair said that it was a good experience for his players.
“Some of the players are pretty young and not very mature, which showed at the end of the set. It’s a new team and they’re young. We are going to focus on the Central American Games in July, and we will focus on the defense and the break points, the points that count the most.”
The Canadian men’s team is preparing for the Volleyball Nations League that begins this weekend. They haven’t announced that roster, but say it will be different in part than the group that they used in the friendlies last week. Canada had a breakthrough season in 2017, where they finished in a record-high of 3rd after beating the United States in the bronze medal match.
Men’s Roster (vs Mexico in Edmonton)
- Jay Blankenau of Sherwood Park, AB
- Byron Keturakis of Surrey, BC
- Brandon Koppers of Georgetown, ON
- Eric Loeppky of Steinbach, MB
- Blake Scheerhoorn of Belleville, ON
- Ryley Barnes of Edmonton, AB
- Alexander Duncan-Thibault of Toronto, ON
- Fynnian McCarthy of Lake Country, BC
- Max Burt of Gander, NL
- Pearce Eshenko of Banff, AB
- Danny Demyanenko of Toronto, ON
- Justin Duff of Winnipeg, MB
- Jeremy Davies of Calgary, AB
- Logan Brennan of Bragg Creek, AB