In the past, the United States has been the outright leader of the NORCECA federation in respects to qualifying for the Olympics. Though there are some smaller nations like Puerto Rico and Cuba that have had success in the past, one team has begun emerging into the NORCECA scene, Canada.
Canada has had strong players in the past, but not a solid all-around team that has put much pressure on the rest of the NORCECA field like a Team USA or Cuba would do. Now, their roster is beginning to grow and place more developed and all-around players onto the squad, giving all NORCECA teams a run for their money – especially come Olympic qualification time.
2020 Tokyo Olympic Qualification Process
There has been a slight change in the Olympic qualification process for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. For the upcoming Olympics, there could possibly be three chances for a team to qualify:
- 3 teams will qualify from the World Olympic Qualification tournament
- 3 teams will qualify from the International Olympic Qualification tournament
- the remaining 5 teams will be decided from each of the 5 continental championships (Europe, Asia, NORCECA, South American and Asia-Oceania)
This changes just slightly from the 2016 qualification process where along with the hosts Brazil and the five continental champions, there were 2 teams invited from the 2015 World Cup, three teams invited from the 1st qualifier and just one team from the 2nd Worlds qualifier.
How this affects NORCECA?
With Canada emerging, this puts pressure on the United State’s men’s squad to step up their game and have a healthy and strong roster for the Olympic qualifying period. This, though, applies to Canada as well, as they are bringing in new talents that they will need to keep healthy over the coming years.
With one team coming out of the NORCECA continental championship, it most likely will come down to Team USA and Canada to qualify this way. However, either team could mark their presence in the Olympics through one of the previous qualifiers. If Team USA has a tough showing at either of these, along with Canada, they will be fighting through the NORCECA qualifier for a spot on the Olympic roster.
2016 Rio Olympic Teams
Both Canada and Team USA made it to the 2016 Olympic Games as a part of four NORCECA teams to qualify.
In 2016, the men’s tournament included:
- 4 European teams (Italy, Russia, Poland, France)
- 2 South American teams (Brazil, Argentina)
- 4 NORCECA teams (United States, Canada, Cuba, Mexico)
- 1 Asian-Oceania team (Iran)
- 1 African team (Egypt)
Team USA took the bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games while Canada hung back at #6. This was despite the fact that Canada was able to take down Team USA in the opening rounds of play in a sweep, setting themselves up for a second place Pool A finish behind Italy.
Both teams made it to the quarterfinals, as they finished in the top-four of their pool. Canada dropped out of the race early with a three-set loss to Russia while Team USA flew through Poland in straight sets. This set up an Italy/Team USA match-up that saw the Italian side win in a grueling five-setter. The Americans went on to take down Russia in another five-set battle for the bronze medal while Brazil downed Italy for the gold on their home turf.
2017 FIVB World League
Canada came out guns blazing in the 2017 FIVB World League, as they forged their way into the Final Six of the tournament, followed by the bronze medal match against none other than their NORCECA rivals, Team USA. The Canadians downed the Americans in four sets to earn their first-ever medal at the World League after claiming the bronze.
In addition to it being their first medal in the competition, it was over Team USA, a team that they had never met in the World League at any stage prior to this year. This also marked the first time since 2012 that two NORCECA squads were in the final four of the World League, as both Team USA and Cuba were among the top-four that year.
A Strong, Youthful Roster
- Graham Vigrass – Vigrass was a tough opponent at the net, blocking 19 balls in the opening rounds of play.
- Sharone Vernon-Evans – Vernon-Evans was quiet to open up play at the World League
- Blair Bann – Bann stepped it up on defense during the opening rounds, as he scooped up 64 digs to come in second overall. In the finals, Bann was the number one defender with an average of 3.07 digs per set and 46 digs overall.
- Stephen Maar – Maar was a consistent outlet for the Canadian squad as he put down 84 points in the opening rounds of play.
- John Gordon Perrin – Gordon Perrin was Canada’s top-scorer in the opening rounds of play at the World League with 96 points on 76 kills, seven blocks and 13 aces. As the captain of the team, Gordon Perrin has the task of keeping the team level-headed through the tough matches and making his own strong contributions on the court as well.