Defensa takes road less travelled to Nationals

 Defensa Volleyball (Burlington, Ont) won their first 18U National Championship in 2011 with players like OUA Rookie of the Year, Chelsea Briscoe, and Women's National team member, Michaela Reesor.

Defensa Volleyball (Burlington, Ont) won their first 18U National Championship in 2011 with players like OUA Rookie of the Year, Chelsea Briscoe, and Women's National team member, Michaela Reesor.

The 17U/18U National Championships haven’t even started in Edmonton yet, and already one of the top teams in the 18U Girls age group is making waves.

If you’ve followed girls club volleyball at all in Canada over the past few years, Defensa is a name that you’ve become quite familiar with. In the past two years, the club not only has two National Championship medals, Gold in 2011 and Silver in 2012, but is also producing some of the top players in the country who are going to big Division 1 programs in the States, or fueling the top programs here in Canada.

This year’s Defensa team has been making some waves even before the National Championships in Edmonton May 10th-12th. The club that is located in Burlington, Ontario, will not have participated in any OVA events before heading to Alberta. Instead, they chose to play only one official event in Canada, opting to head to Quebec’s Open Provincial Championships in order to qualify for the Canadian Open.

Since Volleyball Canada’s only requirement is to have participated at a Provincial Championship, with no specification of needing to qualify through your home province, their decision is a justified one. It was made all the easier by the fact that Quebec run Open Provincials, which require no previous play in Quebec to compete. 

According to head Coach Rob Fernley, it all came down to scheduling and placement. “Because there was no Defensa 17U team last year, [the team is made up with athletes left over from last year’s 18U team and those who graduated from the 16U team], we would have started the year in the Championship division” Said Fernley. “We also knew that we would be missing the first OVA tournament in December for the NCAA Final Four and the JVA World Challenge. Missing that first tournament would have placed us in the Trillium division, and our plans to miss another OVA would put us back in Trillium.”

With no knowledge of how many teams would make up the 18U Tier 1 Division at Provincials, coach Fernley made the decision to forgo all OVA events for this year, opting to travel south of the border for some tough competition. 

If you were given the choice of watching the highest level of competition in North America, and playing a tournament against some the best teams in the States, in front of all the top Division 1 coaches, or going to a tournament in which you’ll be competing against the same teams and kids that you’ve been playing against for four years, which would you choose? (We’re pretty sure we know which one we would have picked).

“It’s all about the speed of the game. Americans just play the game at a higher speed,” says Fernley."Not only the pace of their game, but the pace of the overall play. With the quick subs and rules in place to move the game along quicker, a lot more ball can be played."

"We've always brought our teams down to the States, it's no secret that the level of competition is a lot higher. We want our girls to play against the best."

Not only do they play against the best, but also win against the best, medalling in every tournament but one this year, playing against the top players in the country ranked number one is women's volleyball. 

With a roster that bolsters players such as Allyssah Fitterer, committed to Michigan State, and Junior National team member Autumn Bailey, committed to Marquette, this year's Defensa team is just like the rest, a serious threat to be the best team in the country. 

FIVB: World League Cities Released

Residents of Toronto and Quebec City will have the chance to see Gavin and Brinks shut the Netherlands, Egypt, and Korea down this JuneIf you live in Quebec City or Toronto, break out your Canadian jerseys and your noisemakers, because your city will be hosting World League volleyball!

Volleyball Canada has just announced the host cities and weekends for the 2013 FIVB Men’s World League, and it goes as follows:

  • Canada vs. Netherlands, May 31st-June 2nd, Quebec City
  • Canada vs. Egypt, June 7th-9th, Toronto
  • Canada vs. Korea, June 14th-16th, Toronto

Actual dates, times, and venues have yet to be announced because Volleyball Canada is still negotiating the terms of the contract with the venues, but still, it’s something!

Each series will feature two matches, on two consecutive days.

Canada has to finish in first place to move on to the Final Round. For any of you who saw Canada beat Brazil last year in Toronto, you know how the power of a crowd can turn a match!

Home Court Advantage: McMaster University's Burridge Gym

Home Court Advantage is a recurring series that focuses on the court, environment and playing conditions on men's and women's volleyball courts around the country.  In this, the second post of the series, we will be focusing on the McMaster Marauders’ Burridge Gym.

The McMaster Marauders' Home Court.

The men’s and women’s teams for McMaster University play at the Burridge Gymnasium. It is located on the main campus of McMaster, toward the north east corner. McMaster is in Hamilton, specifically at 1280 Main St. W. It’s a short distance from the Main St. exits off Highway 403 (for those coming from east of Hamilton, it’s the QEW, which eventually becomes the 403).

More after the jump.

Home Court Advantage: Seneca College

Home Court Advantage is a recurring series that focuses on the court, environment and playing conditions on men's and women's volleyball courts around the country.  In this, the first post of the series, we will be focusing on Seneca College's gymnasium.

The Seneca Sting volleyball home court

The men's and women's volleyball teams for Seneca College practice and play on the school's Newnham Campus, located in Northern Toronto near Finch Ave East and HWY 404.  While the school does have six campuses and four "community campuses", Newnham is the main campus and hosts the primary athletics facilities.

More after the jump.