Though they came into the 2007 NORCECA Women's Continental Championship quarter-final with a lower world ranking than their opponents, Team Canada figured they could easily trade blows with Mexico.
By the end the visitors were left shaking their heads, bloodied by an over-powering Canuck attack.
"I felt like we were unstoppable, like whatever we did would be successful," setter Tiffany Dodds said following Canada's 3-0 (25-17, 25-10, 25-16) win over Mexico in front of 1,600 at the Investors Group Athletic Centre last night. "We were controlling the game and it was all our side."
ON THE ROPES
It wasn't that way early on the match. Mexico carried an 8-4 advantage into the first technical time-out and looked like they had the home team on the ropes.
That puncher's chance quickly disappeared, though.
Canada took control of the match in midway point of the first set when coach Naoki Miyashita made a change on the front line, replacing starting setter Larissa Cundy with Dodds. That gave the Canucks an extra five inches of advantage at the net (Cundy is 5-foot-8; Dodds, 6-foot-3) and changed the course of the game as the shorter Mexicans could not penetrate the large block and were forced to settle for tips and pushes on the attack.
"We expected them to come out strong, they've done that against other teams," Dodds said. "Once we relaxed and kept with it, there was no stopping us."
Holland, Man.-product Tammy Mahon led all hitters with nine kills. Captain Emily Cordonier had a game-high three service aces.
Twenty-seventh ranked Canada now faces the daunting task of trying to get past the United States and into Saturday's final. The Americans, who earned a bye into tonight's semifinal (8 p.m.) with a perfect 3-0 record through the round- robin, are ranked eighth in the FIVB (federation internationale de volleyball) world rankings.
"We set a goal to be in the top four," Miyashita said. "We did a great job and I think the players are very excited."
In the other quarter-final, the Dominican Republic easily handled Puerto Rico 3-0 (25-22, 25-22, 25-15). The D.R. faces mighty Cuba (fifth in the world) in the second semi (6 p.m.). Both semifinal games are on SHAW (Ch. 9).
The top two teams advance to the World Cup in Japan, where the top three teams win a berth to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Should Canada fall short against the U.S they will have another chance to qualify for the Olympics at the continental qualifier Dec. 14-22 in Mexico.
DOWN IN CALI: The Canadian men made it through to the semifinals in the 2007 NORCECA Men's Continental Championship in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday. Canada took on the United States last night. The game was still underway at press time.