A Paralympic Preview: Sitting Volleyball

With the Paralympic Games rapidly approaching, Report On Rio will preview every event that has a Canadian team competing in Brazil — featuring past results, schedules, rosters, and expectations.

ImageProxyThe Canadian women’s sitting volleyball team are entering a new frontier when the Summer Paralympics competition begins in Rio de Janeiro.

 

Never before has a Canadian team, male or female, competed in sitting volleyball in the 32-year history of the sport being included in the Paralympic programme.

Earning the right to compete at the second largest multi-sports festival in the world is a victory in it self, but team Canada obviously has much grander ambitions than merely participating.

Their quest for a spot on the podium beings on Sept. 9 at the Riocentro-Pavilion 6. The gold, silver and bronze medals will be presented on Sept. 17.

                                                                   Road to Rio:

Canada locked down its historic berth at the Summer Paralympics by winning a bronze medal at the 2015 Parapan American Games in Toronto.

It was a rough ride coming out of the gate for the Canadians as they were swept three-sets-to-zero in their first two preliminary round matches by Brazil and the United States. They were outscored 75-33 by Brazil and 75-26 by the U.S.

A dominant whitewashing of the Cuban team put Canada back on track. They won the sets 25-16, 25-16 and 25-20.

This Canadian team elevated their performance against Brazil in the semi-final round by narrowing the gap on the scoreboard to 75-43. Canada was at its best in a closely-fought 25-20 opening set loss.

They clinched the final spot on the podium by steamrolling Cuba 25-8, 25-7 and 25-7 in the bronze medal game.

Meet the Team:

Jaffray, British Columbia’s Shacarra Orr, 20, will be counted on to be a leader for this

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Shacarra Orr will be called upon to be a major source of offence for Canada.

Canadian team as she fulfilled that role at the Parapan Ams. The University of Calgary communications student finished within the top 10 scorers of the para-continental tournament with 28 points.

In an interview with Report on Rio back in July, Orr credited team synergy as a major reason this team can succeed in Brazil.

“We are a team, we are team Canada women’s sitting volleyball, we aren’t individuals,” she said. “Even when we’re at home what we do is for the team. When we’re eating, when we’re exercising, everything has the team in mind.”

Read Keegan Matheson’s feature story about Shacarra Orr.

Orr was also the featured guest on Ep.9 of the Road to Rio Podcast

This 12-member team has a very strong Western Canadian presence. Five of the players hail from Alberta, and three, including Orr, call B.C. home. Edmonton has been established as the training hub for this squad leading up to the Games.

Orr said this young team is determined to grow the national sitting volleyball scene by producing a dynamic showing on the court in Brazil.

“We’re going to Rio. We want to get recognized. We want to show the world that we’re in this and we’re here to compete, even though we’re new and a young team. We’re not backing down after this.”

WOMEN’S SITTING VOLLEYBALL TEAM
Head coach:  Nicole Ban (Fort McMurray, Alta.)
Chantal Beauchesne (St. Isidore, Ont.)
Angelena Dolezar (Edmonton, Alta.)
*Danielle Ellis (Langley, B.C.)
*Leanne Muldrew (Winnipeg, Man.)
*Jennifer Oakes (Calgary, Alta.)
Shacarra Orr (Jaffray, B.C.)
Heidi Peters (Neerlandia, Alta.)
Tessa Popoff (Surrey, B.C.)
Amber Skyrpan (Wandering River, Alta.)
Felicia Voss-Shafiq (Burnaby, B.C.)
Jolan Wong (Pembroke, Ont.)
Katelyn Wright (Edmonton, Alta.)

* = First time on national team

Expectations:

It will be a difficult task for Canada to break through for a medal in September. Their world ranking of 14 is the lowest among the eight nations that qualified for the Paralympic tourney.

Fortunately, the Canadian team is not in the same pool as China and the United States — the nations ranked first and second in the world. However, Canada does have to contend with Brazil (fourth) and a Uruguay team (third) that won the 2015 ParaVolley Europe Championship.Russia (eighth) rounds out group A, while Iran (ninth and Rwanda (13th) will engage in preliminary round battle with the Americans and Chinese.

Only the top two teams in each pool advance to the playoffs. Perhaps the most realistic target for Canada is to try and eke past the Russians for third place in the group— but Olympic and Paralympic tournaments have always been ripe with upsets.


Photo Credit: Canadian Paralympic Committee

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