Matches began the following day. Due to rain previous days the courts were rock hard, basically indoor conditions. We played Trinidad1 and Costa Rica going 2-0 on the day finishing first in our pool, meeting Cayman the next morning in the pre-quarter.
That night Christian and I went to this great sports pub, this place actually turned into the hot spot for many athletes and event staff as the menu was large and any sport event you wanted to watch was available…including Bruins games. I watched two B’s games there and was loving every minute of it – this trip was really turning out to be great.
In the morning we played our friends from Cayman and won moving us into the quarters against Puerto Rico later that day. We hung around the venue for a solid 4 hours till game time then got to it. We started strong and by this point had found our rhythm – we won the first set and after being down late in the second set managed to climb back in it with some key stops and a big ace to close it out in two straight sets. Up next would be Mexico in the semis.
Mexico is a team we’ve seen a lot of this season, for myself, exclusively on the FIVB tour as this was my first NORCECA of the year. Mexico had been tearing up the NORCECA tour this season winning 6 gold medals and however many silver/bronze to go along with the rest. Canada was fortunate to have a video analyst at this event, the first time ever, and I must say it made a big difference for me. Heading into the match I had watched Mexico play in their previous matches and picked up a few tendencies that helped me get stops at the net, and there were many in the first! With Red scooping in the back court we cruised to a first set win, but not before letting them gain a little momentum in the tail end of it. In the second set Mexico came out strong and absolutely clubbed us, nothing going right on our side. The third set was tight up until we got three stops at the net in a row and smoothly sided out for the win. Into the finals!
We had the luxury of playing our semi final first. Due to the huge amounts of rain that flooded every other court all match of both genders were played on center court Sunday. This meant we got to watch the other men’s semi, Canada1 vs USA2. Red and I were watching confident that Chaim and Ben would pull it out to make the first ever Canada/Canada final (to my knowledge) on the NORCECA tour. Unfortunately they let it slip away in a tight three set match, though.
After a 5 match break we were up. Playing under the lights at night was nice, although it was still so humid at least the sun wasn’t beaming down – not that we saw the sun at all that day anyway. After some solid wins against two top teams on the NORCECA tour Redmann and I were feeling it heading into this match and got up early in the first set – we closed it out 21-17 and weren’t about to let it go three. When the second started we were knotted up the whole way to 8 when we went on a 5 point run to get the 13-8 technical. After that it was smooth sailing as we finished it off 21-16 to claim our first ever NORCECA gold, individually and as a team.
This was a big tournament for us! As our Continental Championships we’re told the point match that of an FIVB Open, that’s 500 points for us. This late in the season means we’ll keep those points for the first few FIVB’s next season, and if they are sent to the FIVB quick enough we’ll have them added to our ranking points for the FIVB Durban Open in South Africa coming up.
Lastly, a huge congrats to Jamie and Kristina as they, too, claimed gold at the NORCECA Championships! This made for an even more special victory as both Jamie and I got to share gold for the first time at a tournament!
Chaim and Ben closed out Mexico in the bronze to finish third, meanwhile Heather and Caleigh lost a tight 3 set match to Mexico in the women’s bronze medal game; overall a pretty solid showing for Canada as a whole at this event!