SARAJEVO – For the first time in its history, Canada’s women’s sitting volleyball team will be on the podium at the world championships – and it could be gold, after defeating Slovenia in straight sets in the semifinals on Thursday to advance to the championship game.
The sixth-seeded Canadians, who achieved a best-ever fourth place at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games last summer, swept the number-10 Slovenians 25-14, 25-16, 25-21. Team Canada is now 5-1 in the tournament, their only loss to the USA in the preliminary round in five sets.
Number-four Brazil caused a huge upset in the other semifinal, beating world number-one and Paralympic Games champion USA 25-23, 25-18, 25-17. The gold medal game is at 10:30 a.m. ET on Friday and will be streamed live on the CBC Sports YouTube channel.
“Our team, staff included, has worked tirelessly to get us in this position,” said team member and two-time Paralympian Jennifer Oakes of Calgary, one of 10 returnees from the Tokyo team. “To be able to compete for a gold medal for Canada with this group is so exciting. We fought for every point in our semifinal match against Slovenia, and plan on bringing that mentality against Brazil tomorrow.
“We have faced tough opponents in this tournament, who continue to push us to adapt as the games go on. I’m so proud to be a part of this program, we have continued to grow and support each other.”
It was Brazil that beat Canada in the bronze medal game at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo, and the team will now look to reverse that result.
Canada’s head coach Nicole Ban said her troops were relentless against Slovenia.
“We executed our game plan: serving aggressively and attacking strong,” she said.
“It will be a tough final against Brazil as they won the other semifinal, playing a great match against USA. We are ready to compete and find our game once again.”
Men win five-set thriller to finish 11th overall
On the men’s side at the world championships, Canada finished 11th, overcoming a two-set deficit to win 24-26, 24-26, 25-14, 25-17, 16-14 over Poland in its final relegation match.
“The growth our team has shown over the past year is phenomenal,” said team captain Doug Learoyd of Edmonton. ‘’We have shown the ability to compete with the best teams in the world and I look forward to seeing the continued growth as we head towards our Paralympic qualifier in May.”