Koskie sees Olys hope

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

Winnipeg's Scott Koskie is back for one last kick at the Olympic squad.

And the Team Canada setter is optimistic about the volleyball squad's chance to qualify for the next Olympics.

"You never say never but it probably will be my last go at it," the veteran said from London, Ont., yesterday. "It's been a while but it's still fun to compete."

However, Koskie figures he has just played his last year of pro in Europe due to family concerns. But he has a fresh outlook on the national squad under the guidance of new mentor, Glenn Hoag.

"Last summer was great with Glenn coming on as head coach," said Koskie, 35. "He's brought a lot of stability to the program and has raised the level of play significantly."

Koskie added that the players will also benefit from all of the competitions that the team will enter this year, with the most significant being a return to the World League of Volleyball after a seven-year layoff.

"It's the one thing that we can put on our calendar to build around," Koskie said on the eve of tonight's World League opener versus Finland in London. "It's 12 games versus world-class opponents.

"We've played lots of touring teams in the past but those games don't have the same urgency as these do. These are part of something bigger."

Koskie is one of a handful of Canucks who competed in the last World League still with the team.

"If you win, there is a cash payout right after the game so that's an added incentive," he said. "In the regular round, you get paid $500-$800 US per player if you win. And it's more if you advance to the final round."

NO ILLUSIONS

The World League winner earns US $1 million.

Canada will play home-and-away games in a four-team pool that also includes Brazil and Korea. The winner of each pool advances to the final along with the host (Finland) and a wild card squad.

However, Hoag has no illusions of grandeur, at least in the early going.

"The last of the pros just came back so we haven't had much time to prepare together," he said. "I told them we need to show that we can be a competitive side until we can start rolling with our systems and be on top of our game."

But he does relish this type of atmosphere.

"This is exactly what we need," he said. "We need to keep putting high pressure on the team with this kind of competition and that's what we're looking forward to this summer. We're really looking forward to getting into it."

Canada will face Finland, ranked No. 33 in the world, again tomorrow afternoon in London.

"I'm not really worried about world rankings because this competition is so fierce," said Hoag, whose team is No. 12. "There's not much difference between No. 8 and 28. Our goal is to finish top two in our pool while our main season objective is to qualify for the World Cup and ultimately, Beijing (Olympics)."

Brazil, by the way, is favoured to win the pool.

DIGS -- Alberta's Brock Davidiuk has replaced Manitoba's injured setter Mike Munday (sprained ankle) on the London trip ... CBC's digital affiliate Country Canada will broadcast tonight's match with highlight's of tomorrow's game on CBC Sportsweekend.


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