Lethbridge Herald

Canada beats Mexico at Olympic volleyball qualifier

- Jim Morris THE CANADIAN PRESS — VANCOUVER

The Canadian men’s volleyball team took a step toward securing their spot at this summer’s Olympic Games by defeating Mexico in straight sets Friday night the NORCECA men’s Tokyo qualificat­ion tournament.

Canada, ranked seventh in the world, defeated No. 21-ranked Mexico 25-16, 25-14, 25-17.

The winner of the four-team tournament gains a berth at the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Canada won the first match easily. In the second, the Canadians fell behind 4-0 early then fought back to tie the match 5-5. It was a back-andforth battle before Canada took control by scoring seven straight points for a 16-9 lead.

With the Mexicans on the ropes, Canada took no chances in the third, racing out to a 13-4 lead.

Canada plays No. 18 Cuba on Saturday then wraps up the tournament on Sunday against No. 24 Puerto Rico.

The men qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after an absence from the Summer Games of almost a quartercen­tury. The 12th-seeded Canadians bowed out to Russia in the quarterfin­als.

While the men are playing at the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, the Canadian women’s team are playing in an Olympic qualifying tournament in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic where it dropped its opener.

Canada, ranked 18th in the world, lost 3-2 (25-22, 22-25, 2225, 25-23, 15-11) to No. 13 Puerto Rico on Friday.

The Canadian women placed ninth in 1996 in their last Olympic appearance.

Five Canadian teams — men’s and women’s rugby sevens, women’s softball, men’s field hockey and women’s water polo — have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. That matches the previous high of a nonboycott­ed Games — excluding the 1976 Olympics in Montreal when the country sent nine teams as a host.

Besides the volleyball squads, basketball and soccer teams also have a chance to punch their tickets to Tokyo.

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