*Live stream links at bottom of article
The Canadian National women's volleyball team is set to start their first FIVB Grand Prix since 2003 tonight in Lima, Peru when they face the host nation at 10:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet One.
The Grand Prix, much like World League, has undergone a massive expansion this year, adding 10 teams to the competition. This brings the total from 18 teams in 2013, to 28 this year. The annual tournament is now divided into three groups, with the Canadian women finding themselves in Group Two, also known as Pools J-O.
The Canadian women head into this competition ranked 20th internationally, and will be joined by #15 Poland, #15 Peru, #18 Argentina, #18 Netherlands (no that's not a typo, they are tied in the World Rankings), #17 Puerto Rico, #21 Cuba, and #22 Belgium. Every week the teams will be divided into two pools of four. This week, Canada will play Peru, Poland, and Belgium, playing a match a day.
For our women, this pool could not be better. This young team has lacked one thing in the past few years: meaningful competition. While they are no strangers to fellow NORCECA teams Puerto Rico and Cuba, as well as both Peru and Argentina who they see consistently at the Pan Am Cup, the addition of CEV teams Belgium, Poland, and the Netherlands will give them a much needed look at European competition before the World Championships in the fall.
The Grand Prix Finals are slotted to take place in Japan August 20th-24th and will feature the hosts, the top four teams from Group One (or Pools A-I), as well as the winner of the Group Two Finals that will take place in Poland August 15th-17th.
To move on to the Group Two finals, Canada must finish in the top three to join the hosts Poland (if Poland is in the top 3, then the fourth team will advance). The girls in red and white will look to continue their success against Peru, find consistency against Cuba and Puerto Rico, while learning what they can against the European teams.
The Grand Prix leaves very little time for rest, playing a total of 9 matches in only three weeks. This gruelling schedule starts in Peru, heads to Belgium, and finishes in Argentina, with the Finals the following week in Poland.
All Grand Prix matches will be featured live one Sportsnet One. Don't have it? We've got you live streams here: