Canada's men's volleyball team draws No. 1 Brazil at Olympics
Defending gold medallist Russia headlines Pool B
Canada's men's volleyball team will face top-ranked Brazil in pool play in its return to Olympic competition in Rio.
The men's team qualified for its first Summer Olympics since the 1992 Games in Barcelona at a last-chance tournament in Japan.
Rounding out Canada's Pool A opponents are Italy, the United States, France and Mexico.
Defending gold medallist Russia headlines Pool B. The 2012 winners will face Poland, Argentina, Iran, Cuba and Egypt.
REMINDER <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ICYMI?src=hash">#ICYMI</a><br>Men's <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Rio2016?src=hash">#Rio2016</a> pools announced earlier - defending champs RUS in pool B with 2014 world champs POL <a href="https://t.co/wKsFbWWo62">pic.twitter.com/wKsFbWWo62</a>—@FIVBatOlympics
The Canadians have had mixed results against their pool opponents recently. While the team is 4-0 (including three straight-sets wins) against Mexico and 2-1 against the U.S., Canada is winless in four matches against the remaining three teams since 2015.
Former national team captain Charles Parkinson believes that the Canadian side can contend with some of the top teams in the tournament, but needs to make targeted improvements in order to close the gap.
"Psychologically, I think they're ready. Where I think Canada really needs to perform is technically, and particularly in first contact and blocking," Parkinson, who will also be a commentator for CBC Sports' Olympic coverage, said on Monday.
"If Canada can improve just a little bit [in those areas], I think that they will be just fine."
Parkinson, who now coaches volleyball, believes the recent performance of setter T.J. Sanders has been critical to the team's success.
"Over the last few years, Canada struggled a little bit to find rhythm from the setter position," said Parkinson. "What [head coach Glenn Hoag] has been able to do with T.J is to establish a consistent style of play with one setter, one quarterback who delivers the ball on a regular basis.
"As [Sanders has] gotten more and more confident, he's become more consistent in terms of the height, speed and location of the ball, and the players are then able to groove on an approach that's consistent every time."