Players learn from v-ball worlds

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:39 PM ET

OSAKA, Japan -- A quick glance at the results would cause most to declare the 2010 FIVB World Women's Volleyball Championship was anything but a success for Team Canada.

And while nobody was jumping for joy about going 0-5 and being eliminated from the competition after the opening round, Canada truly believes they have been able to bridge the gap between them and many of the teams they are chasing.

"For me, there was a realization of how close we are with the top teams in the world," said Team Canada captain Tammy Mahon, a nine-year veteran of the program. "It's not enough to stay to 15 or 17 with these teams, but we stuck right with them. We didn't take a lot of sets off teams and we didn't win one game, but we came a long way in this tournament.

"Because we improved from Game 1 to Game 5, we just need to play more matches like this. We're full of the potential and the desire and the passion to play in these matches and improve, but you have to play more matches to improve at this level.

Potential seems to be the operative word when talking about the future.

"That's the exact right word," said Team Canada setter Lauren O'Reilly. "We have glimpses of it, but we didn't do it for a full match at this tournament. It's good to know how good we can play and to know where we want to get to.

"Yeah, it takes time and it takes years of hard work. When we do play passionate and we do play well, it's really awesome to see."

Canada was competing on the world stage for the first time since 2002 and there was times when the inexperience at this level showed.

"With every set, you learn more," said O'Reilly. "You learn that there are long rallies, you have to play consistently and you have to stay aggressive. We have to have our block in order to win points, win sets and win matches. Our team improved this tournament, 100% for sure.

"We didn't get a W in this tournament and that sucks, but we're only getting better and we have to keep this level of play up."

What the future holds for the Canadian women is anyone's guess, but there's reason to believe they are on their way back to prominence.

"It's just really exciting," said Mahon. "When I think back to 2007 when we almost qualified for the Olympics and lost to Cuba, that's how I feel after this tournament. That just lit a fire under me and the team when you see how close you are and how good you can be.

"It's sad to think about the end result and what happened, but it's exciting to think of what might have been. We were only a moment or a set away from some potentially really great things happening for us. We've always said to just stay patient with that."

Arnd Ludwig just completed his second full season as head coach of the women's team and he's encouraged by what he's seen over the past week.

"I take the long view but it's hard for the players," said Ludwig. "We have the athletic abilities, but we have a lot of work to do. It was eye-opening for a lot of players. These are world-class teams that we saw. Now everybody knows what's going on everywhere else in the world, volleyball-wise and everybody should be a little more motivated when we come back. To work harder to get to that level.

"We're on the right path. We have to see the process right now. We can't focus too much on the result. For that, we can look later."


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