Canada's men's volleyball team had to leave a couple of key players home from the FIVB world championships. Head coach Glenn Hoag still hopes to reach its goal of a strong performance in Japan.
"We've had setbacks, just before we left to come here," Hoag said in a phone interview from Japan. "But now everybody seems to have found their spot, and now we're basically focused on what we have to do to win our games."
Canada is missing left side Terry Martin, who's out with an abdominal injury, and Chris Wolfenden, the team's Libero who will be out for up to three months after having surgery on his knee. "Those were two crucial guys from our system," said Hoag. "We'll see how that affects us, and I'm hoping it won't too much." Setter Mike Munday made the trip despite having a broken finger. "The team had been performing fairly well, so hopefully we can keep that momentum," said Hoag. "Obviously injuries might be tough because our system was pretty specific, and now we're going to put some people in different positions. But I think we can still reach our goal of moving on to the next round and finishing top-10."
Twelfth-ranked Canada is in Pool D in the 24-country world tournament with Russia (third), Serbia and Montenegro (fourth), South Korea (11th), Tunisia (17th), and Kazakhstan (33rd). "The stiffest competition will be Serbia and Russia, and then there will be a battle between the rest. . . the first four of each pool carry on to the second round, and that's our primary objective for the first round of the tournament," said Hoag.
Canada faces a big, physical team in its opener against Kazakhstan. "We expect a not very complex offence, but fairly physical, and the same with the defence – very much strong net play," said Hoag.