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Volleyball in 2015 Toronto: The Battle is About to Begin

Volleyball in 2015 Toronto: The Battle is About to Begin

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on July 06, 2015

Volleyball is likely to be one of the most popular collective sports during Toronto Pan Am Games. There is a significant reason for such interest: seven out of the top fifteen volleyball teams of the world will be playing at the Canadian city, including the leaders in both genders: Brazil and the United States.

Men’s teams are going to give a great show, with the presence of the Brazilian players, the present Pan Am champions. The South American team is going to face the United States (5th on the ranking), Argentina (sixth), Canada (14th) and Cuba, which this time round seems to have less opportunities to be on the podium because of the losses it has suffered. The list is completed by Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia.

Brazilians, North Americans and Argentineans stand as favorites, but we don’t know for sure if they are taking their main figures to Toronto, since all of these teams are focused on the World League, where millions are distributed. Canada’s team is certainly going to play with its main figures.

As the local team, the Canadians want to show the very best of their game. In 2014 they ranked seventh in the World Championship and they will go for a medal in Toronto. “We’ve played several times with the teams to be faced during the preliminary round, so there is rivalry and respect among the teams. I’m sure that the public is going to be excited to see the clash between Canada and the United States, but the level in every single game will be very high”, Glenn Hoag, main coach of the northern team, said.

“This is going to be a preview of what we have to cope with in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, in 2016, if we make it, so it’s very important for us to handle everything related to this Pan-American Games”, Hoag pointed out.

The organizers divided the eight teams into two groups. The sextets from Brazil, Cuba, Argentina and Colombia are included in the A; while B is made up of Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the United States. The first positions get the ticket to the semifinals and they wait for the results of the qualifying games between the second position of a group and the third one of the other.

Cuba has been the most outstanding team in the Pan-American history, with five titles and four silver medals; but Brazil is very close, with four crowns and six silver medals. The South American team has won the past two editions of the Games, in Rio and Guadalajara, and if they get their third title in a row —they are favorites— Cuba would be remove from the top of the medal board.

THE DOMINICAN TEAM WANTS TO SURPRISE EVERYBODY

The women’s volleyball tournament in Toronto also includes elite teams. The eyes will be focused on a possible duel for the title between the United States, leader of the International Federation’s ranking, and Brazil, the second on the list and champion of Guadalajara Pan-American Games; but it’s important to include the Dominican Republic on the list of candidates to the crown, as it occupies the sixth position on the ranking and it knows what winning the Games means, since this team prevailed in the 2003 edition.

The US team was included in Group B, which is undoubtedly the hardest one as it’s also made up of Brazil, Peru and Puerto Rico. On the other hand, Argentina, Canada, Cuba and the Dominican Republic will be playing in Group A.

Unlike the male counterpart, just a few people think that the Canadian women’s team can fight for medals; however, Coach Arnd Ludwig says that his team is “very enthusiastic”. “The Pan-American Games represent an excellent opportunity for our athletes to show their volleyball level in their own country. I’m looking forward to facing highly-competitive teams in Toronto. My team rarely has the opportunity to play in Canada and they want to do it in front of many people that will be supporting them”, he underlined.

The competitive system of the girls is similar to men’s tournament: all teams are going to play against the other members of the group and the first two of each group go to the semifinals; meanwhile, the second winner of a group competes with the third one of the other, so the semifinalist quartet is ready.

Cuba has been the finest women’s volleyball team in the history of the Pan-American Games. The former “Spectacular Caribbean Brunettes” won seven consecutive editions, between 1971 and 1995; but, after constant changes in the team, the level has gone down and it presently occupies the 26th position on the world ranking.

Despite of different problems, the pupils of Professor Roberto Garcia, the new coach of the Cuban team, strongly believe that they are going to qualify at least to the quarter finals. Thinking about a medal, with Brazilians, North Americans and Dominicans on their way, seems to be a hard task to fulfill.

The games of both volleyball tournaments are going to take place at the Exhibition Center, the largest multipurpose facility in Canada. It’s located within CIBC Pan-American Park and it will be hosting other competitions.

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