Canadian women's volleyball team starts Olympic qualifier beating the Netherlands

NINGBO, China — Canada opened an Olympic women's qualification volleyball tournament with a marathon five-set victory over the Netherlands on Saturday.

The Canadian women prevailed 30-32, 25-19, 25-15, 17-25, 13-15 over the Dutch to kick off the 24-country tournament.

The top two teams in each pool of eight qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Canada's women last played in an Olympic volleyball tournament in Atlanta in 1996.

Serbia, China, Czechia, Dominican Republic, Ukraine and Mexico round out Canada's Pool A in Ningbo, China.

Canada faces the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

"Netherlands is a very strong team and playing excellent volleyball after their bronze at the European championships last month,” Canadian coach Shannon Winzer said in a statement.

"Tonight wasn’t a perfect performance but we once again showed that this team has grit and can find confidence knowing we can battle through the imperfect volleyball to still come back to play our top volleyball."

Calgary's Alexa Gray led Canada with 28 points. Kiera Van Ryk of Surrey, B.C., contributed 19.

Emily Maglio of Coquitlam, B.C., scored 12 points and had four blocks with Calgary's Hilary Howe scoring 10 points.

Celeste Plak led the Dutch with 23 points. Canada held the edge in attack points (77-70).

The Netherlands led in blocking points (14-8) and earned eight points from the service line, including five aces from Marrit Jasper.

"This tournament is going to require us to get over both wins and losses quickly to focus on the next opponent," Winzer said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2023.

The Canadian Press