Canada beats Cuba at volleyball's Continental Championship
Will compete at Olympic qualifier in early 2016
The Canadian men's volleyball team has put itself in a strong place mentally ahead of the 2016 Olympic qualifier.
Nick Hoag posted three aces in leading Canada to victory over Cuba in the final of the NORCECA Continental Championship on Saturday night in Cordoba, Mexico.
Hoag finished with 15 points and was named most valuable player of the tournament after Canada prevailed by scores of 25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 25-17 in the final.
I think my team is the MVP of this tournament. I'm glad we won it all together.- Canada's Nick Hoag after being named MVP of the NORCECA men's Continental Championship
"It feels amazing, I owe everything to my team," Hoag said in a statement released by Volleyball Canada. "I think [my teammates] did a tremendous job helping me at change position in the middle of the tournament [to the right side].
"I think my team is the MVP of this tournament. I'm glad we won it all together."
The Canadians had previously earned the right to compete at the qualifying tourney for the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that is slated for early next year.
Gord Perrin topped Canada with 18 points for the tournament while Justin Duff added 12.
"I'm really happy with the win," understated Canadian coach Glenn Hoag. "This was our 37th match of the season, so it's the longest summer I've had as a coach [of the national team] … and we were missing a few key players, but the team really rallied and worked hard for every point."
Hoag added his players are growing with each outing against the young, athletic Cubans.
I think we fought hard. We slipped up in the second set when we went down 8-2 but other than that we were very stable.- Canada's captain Fred Winters after Saturday's championship victory
"It's great competition and good volleyball," he said. "This caps the season for us."
The teams each had 10 blocks while Canada dominated service 6-2.
"I think we fought hard," said Canadian captain Fred Winters. "We slipped up in the second set when we went down 8-2, but other than that we were very stable.
"It was a good win for us. Now we head to our professional teams with a good feeling."
Canada's Daniel Jansen Vandoorn was the recipient of the "second-best middle blocker" award, with Perrin being named the best "first outside hitter."