Submitted. Canada aims for third men’s volleyball medal in Kazan. Canadian Interuniversity Sport, in conjunction with Volleyball Canada, announced Thursday the student-athletes and staff members who will represent the country in men’s volleyball at the 2013 Summer Universiade in Kazan, Russia.
A total of 49 players from all over country battled for a spot on the 12-men roster over the past two months, starting with the first selection camp at the national training centre in Gatineau, Que., in early May.
In the end, the all-CIS lineup has a distinctive Western flavour with 10 members from the Canada West regional association, including four from perennial powerhouse Trinity Western University.
The TWU foursome includes left side hitters Marc Howatson of Victoria and Steven Marshall of Abbotsford, B.C., as well as middles Lucas Van Berkel of Edmonton and Daniel Jansen Van Doorn of Langley, B.C.
Rounding out the contingent are setters Jay Blankenau of Calgary and TJ Sanders of London, Ont., left sides Chris Hoag and Nicholas Hoag, both of Sherbrooke, Que., Colton de Man of Calgary and Chris Voth of Winnipeg, middle Braden McLean of Birch Hills, Sask., and libero Derek Nieroda of Headingley, Man.
Chris Hoag, who played his four-year CIS career at the University of Calgary, and younger brother Nicholas, who studies at Sherbrooke College, are the sons of former international standout and current Canadian senior national team head coach Glenn Hoag.
Three players return from the 2011 Universiade squad that competed in Shenzhen, China, including Howatson, Blankenau and Voth.
The trio also has international experience from the world junior championships, along with Van Berkel, McLean, Nicholas Hoag and Sanders, while Marshall has competed at the under-19 and under-21 Worlds in beach volleyball.
Howatson, Blankenau, Sanders and the Hoag brothers trained full-time at the Gatineau national centre this year.
Larry McKay, who has been at the helm of the University of Winnipeg program for 24 years, returns as Team Canada head coach for the second straight FISU Games.
McKay’s staff is comprised of assistant coaches Steve Leknois and Tilen Kozamernik, as well as therapist Caroline Pelletier.
Leknois, who heads the Royal Military College program, also assisted McKay in Shenzhen two years ago. Kozamernik, who hails from Slovenia and is the former head coach of his country’s women’s national team, works alongside Glenn Hoag with Turkish national league champion Arkas.
Canada is coming off three straight outstanding performances at the Universiade men’s volleyball tournament. After claiming a silver medal in 2007 in Bangkok, Thailand, the Canucks finished sixth in 2009 in Belgrade, Serbia, and barely missed the podium in 2011 in China, taking fourth place.
Prior to 2007, the Red and White’s only trip to the FISU podium was another second-place finish back in 1983 in Edmonton.
In the preliminary round of the 23-team Kazan competition, the Canadian men will battle in Pool D against the United Arab Emirates (July 6), Mexico (July 7), Chile (July 8) and the Czech Republic (July 11).
Two years ago, the Czechs took seventh place with a 6-2 overall record, Mexico (2-6) was 16th and the UAE (0-6) ended up in 21st and last position. Chile did not compete in Shenzhen.
Reigning two-time Universiade champion Russia is in Pool A with South Korea, the United States, Hong Kong, Estonia and Belarus.
Defending silver medallist Ukraine plays in Pool B against Thailand, Japan, Oman, Algeria and Latvia, while 2011 bronze medallist Brazil competes in Pool C versus Switzerland, Australia, China, Poland and Macedonia.
The 2013 final is set for July 16.