Ruined shorts and a strength coach key to Canada’s first appearance in semifinals

CHIBA (OIS) – Canada (CAN) will be the only new faces that could top the podium in women’s sitting volleyball, after the preliminary pool play ended on Wednesday with all the Rio 2016 medallists advancing to Friday’s semifinals.


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“There’s been really strong world leaders for quite some time, so there are a lot of countries that have to grow within their programme to reach the level that other nations are at,” said libero Jolan WONG (CAN).

“I’m just really happy we’re finally up there and it’s shown how much work we’ve done at home.”

This is Canada’s second appearance in the Paralympics and the first time they have advanced to the semifinals, after the 3-0 win over Japan.

WONG, a 13-year veteran of the squad, said bringing a team strength coach onboard was the key to cementing team cohesion and increasing commitment during a difficult pandemic year.

“We’ve always had our own individual strength coaches, but for everyone to be on the same programme, and to be virtually coached, it really helped grow our programme,” said WONG.

“A lot of us built courts outside on the grass in the summer time last year,” said Danielle ELLIS (CAN).

“I’ve torn through dozens of shorts playing on the concrete in my garage for the last year and a half, we didn’t let anything stop us.

“We worked hard in the gym, we worked hard on the court, we worked on our nutrition, our mental performance. Every day was a chance to compete, a chance to be better for the Games.”

In pool B, the United States (USA) were triumphant in a must-win game against RPC, dominating in a 3-0 match with pinpoint-accurate attack that consistently found holes at the front of the court.

After a lacklustre and disorganised performance against China on Monday, USA’s chemistry on the court sizzled as they punched out quick points. Although hardworking RPC led for most of the last set, they were ultimately unsuccessful.

“It’s not so much about the win, but it’s how we won,” said Lora WEBSTER (USA).

“The China loss was a big one, and I know we talked about that and we weren’t playing as a team and how we have trained in this game was a true testament to how we worked to rebuild that.”

China (CHN) beat Rwanda (RWA) 3-0 to sail to the semifinals undefeated in pool B, while Brazil (BRA) won a hard-fought match against Italy (ITA) 3-1 to finish pool A with an unblemished record.