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Canadian men’s volleyball team punches ticket to 2024 Paris Olympics

Team’s win against Mexico Sunday guaranteed them the spot
Canada’s men’s volleyball team has punched its ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.Canada’s Stephen Timothy Maar, left, hits the ball during their game against Italy at the Men’s Volleyball Nations League leg in Manila, Philippines on Thursday July 6, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Aaron Favila

Canada’s men’s volleyball team has punched its ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Canada defeated Mexico 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-15) at an Olympic qualification tournament on Sunday.

The Canadians beat out Argentina, which also had a 5-2 record, for the second and final qualifying spot in Pool C on a tiebreaker. Top-ranked Poland finished atop the group at 7-0.

Canada had a chance to qualify on Saturday but fell 3-1 to Belgium, leaving the second spot up for grabs. Belgium dropped a 3-2 decision to Bulgaria, aiding Canada’s effort to seal the deal.

“It was an important game after yesterday,” said team captain Nicholas Hoag, a two-time Olympian. “It was disappointing and scary to be in that position, but we got another opportunity today and we took it.

“We stepped up and we had also beat the teams we needed to earlier in the tournament. I’m really happy with the way the guys performed; we got the job done. The celebration starts and we will have the year to prepare for Paris!”

It will be the third consecutive Olympic appearance for the Canadian men, whose only other loss in the tournament came at the hands of the Polish.

“It’s unbelievable,” said head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo. “I’m just so happy for volleyball in Canada, and the history of what people have done for many years with this program to now consistently be in the Olympics.”

Canada led in attack (39-33), blocking (13-5) and aces (8-1), but did concede more error points to Mexico (17-15).

Eric Loeppky of Steinbach, Man., paced Canada with 16 points, followed by Stephen Maar of Aurora, Ont., with 12.

Josué López Rios led Mexico with 11 points.