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Canadian women's volleyball team falls to Puerto Rico, will miss out on Rio

LINCOLN, Neb. — The Canadian women's volleyball team's road to Rio 2016 has hit a dead end.

Canada was swept in three sets by Puerto Rico on Saturday at the NORCECA Olympic Qualification Tournament — ending its chances of obtaining a berth in the upcoming summer Olympic Games.

Canada, ranked 17th in the world, fell to the No. 16 Puerto Ricans 30-32, 17-25 and 20-25.

"We are disappointed in the outcome today. I am a little disappointed in the way we played. I think we can play a little bit better," said Canadian coach Arnd Ludwig.

"Puerto Rico played well and put a lot of pressure on us. Sometimes we couldn't hold the pressure, especially in the first set. In the second and third set we were always chasing the game and never really got into the game like we were in the first set."

Tabitha Love led Canada with 14 points while Jamie Thibeault was the only other player to hit double digits with 10.

Puerto Rico's serve kept Canada out of its system much of the match with an 8-2 ace advantage. Both teams finished with seven blocks while Puerto Rico held a 41-35 advantage in kills.

The Canadians struggled at the four-nation event, finishing 0-3 and winning just one set in those matches. Canada opened the tournament with a straight-sets loss to No. 1 United States and then dropped a 3-1 decision to No. 7 Dominican Republic on Friday. It is the only nation at the competition that won't have another opportunity to earn a spot in Rio.

"Obviously it is very disappointing, especially since we came out so hard in the first set," said Canadian captain Brittney Page. "We really responded to every point in the first set and really rolled over a bit in the second set and lost momentum. Unfortunately for us, they didn't do much different than in the first set. It really is on our shoulder, which is really the most disappointing part."

Puerto Rico remains alive in the Olympic qualification process and will play in the Intercontinental Olympic Qualification Tournament in May. It will be joined by the third-place team in the South American Olympic Qualifier and the second- and third-place teams from the African Olympic Qualification Tournament.

The U.S and the Dominican Republic, both 2-0, were scheduled to face each other later Saturday for gold.

The tournament winner will earn NORCECA's berth into the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It 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 this summer.

The second-place finisher goes to an eight-country tournament with more Olympic berths (four) on the line, but with a tougher field than the event that Puerto Rico will play in (four countries, one Olympic berth).

The Canadian Press

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