01/07/2016 23:35 EST | Updated 01/07/2017 00:12 EST

Canada's women's volleyball team drops opener to US at Olympic qualifier

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Canadian women's volleyball squad opened the 2016 NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament by falling to the United States in straight sets on Thursday.

The U.S., ranked No. 1 in the world and reigning world champions, toppled No. 16 Canada 25-18, 25-18 and 25-15.

"USA is a very strong program with a lot of depth," said Canadian captain Brittney Page. "There is a good atmosphere here and they were excited to come out and play hard. We knew we had to play solid to catch them at all. They're a team you can't afford to make mistakes with because they're so solid and they don't make mistakes."

Lucille Charuk guided Canada with nine points while Tabitha Love contributed eight.

The American side was led by Nicole Fawcett, who finished with 14 points — including 13 on the attack. Karsta Lowe and Jordan Larson-Burbach added 10 points apiece. 

The U.S. offence overwhelmed Canada with a 57-30 kill advantage. Canada held a 7-3 margin in blocks, while the Americans had a 2-0 edge in aces.

"We played good, we had a really good defence," said Canadian coach Arnd Ludwig. "Our serving wasn't as good as I was hoping for. Our passing was same thing, we can pass a little bit better. For us it was a good start to the tournament and there are some things we can build confidence on for the next two games."

The four-nation tournament winner will earn NORCECA's berth into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Canada is the lowest seed at the competition, with No. 7 Dominican Republic and No. 15 Puerto Rico rounding out the competition.

The tournament winner will join Olympic host Brazil (No. 3 in the world), World Cup winner China (No. 2) and World Cup runner-up Serbia (No. 6) in the 12-country field in Rio de Janeiro this summer.

Canada resumes play on Friday against the Dominican Republic, which opened its tournament with a four-set win over Puerto Rico.


The Canadian Press

America Votes
The latest polls, breaking news and analysis on the U.S. election from HuffPost’s Washington, D.C. bureau