With the round robin portion of the NORCECA Women's Continental Championship over and done with, now the tournament really starts for Canada.
Finishing second in Group A with a 2-1 record after a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-10) loss to Cuba last night, the host country faces Group B third place finisher Mexico in one of the two quarter-finals scheduled at the Investors Group Athletic Centre today (8 p.m.).
"Our goal was to finish top-two in our pool," left side hitter Tammy Mahon said. "A bye (today) would be nice, but finishing second is still something we wanted to do. (Tuesday's) win over Puerto Rico was huge and took some of the pressure of us, but we want to still keep improving with each game."
And that's the goal for each team left in the event -- get better each set and try to peak at the right time. After taking the first two games of the tourney, Canada suffered a minor setback against the powerful Cuban squad, but isn't letting that outcome rest in the minds too long.
"It's important from a game like that to learn from it," said libero Ann Levesque, admittedly unfamiliar with what the young Mexican team will offer. "To see what we did well, what we have to adjust, and move on from there. We have Mexico...that's all that matters right now."
Emily Cordonier led Canada's attack with six kills.
Tonight's other quarter-final has the Dominican Republic facing Puerto Rico (6 p.m.), with the winner facing Cuba in the semifinals. Should Canada get past Mexico, they would take on the United States in the other semi tomorrow.
The Americans -- undefeated and looking very strong -- are holding the same mindset of the Canadians: Just improve with each outing.
"We've played well so far, but we know the games will get tougher as the tournament moves on here," said outside hitter Cassie Busse, who helped the U.S to a 3-0 (25-20, 25-18, 25-22) victory over the Dominican Republic prior to the Canada-Cuba match last night.
"It will get more intense as we move on here, especially with teams starting to tire heading into the weekend," Busse added. "The key is to be mentally sharp and keep your mind as fresh as possible."
NOTES: Battling some soreness in her back, left side hitter Stacey Gordon did not play last night. Assistant coach Mike Ling said the 25-year-old was simply given a rest day and will be in the line-up tonight. Gordon led the Canadian attack with 21 kills the first two games ... Canada has not taken a set from Cuba since the 2002 World Championships in Germany ... The NORCECA Men's Continental Championship is taking place in Anaheim, Calif., this week and Canada, 2-1 in Group B round robin play, took on Mexico (1-2 in Group A action) in one of the quarter-finals late last night. The game was still underway at press time.