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Canada top NORCECA women's qualifier for 2018 Worlds

Canada's Alexa Lea Gray tries to get past the block of Cuba's Laura "Rodriguez" Suarez and Yamila Santas at the NORCECA qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB World Championship.
Lausanne, Switzerland, October 1, 2017 - Canada swept Cuba 3-0 (25-18, 25-15, 25-23) on the closing day the first of three North & Central America and the Caribbean (NORCECA) 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship qualifiers at the Vancouver suburb of Langley - though both sides had already a day earlier secured their tickets to the FIVB's flagship tournament, next year in Japan.

It was Canada's third win in as many matches at this four-team round robin tournament and the hosts wrapped it up without dropping a set.

At the 2018 World Championship Cuba and Canada join hosts Japan, defending champions USA plus the already qualified teams of Russia, Serbia, Turkey, Italy, Azerbaijan, Germany, The Netherlands and Bulgaria from Europe, Brazil from South America, and China, Kazakhstan, Korea and Thailand from Asia.

Canada were led Alexa Lea Gray who scored 19 points, as they outscored Cuba 11 stuffs to 5. Captain Sulian Matienzo scored 12 points for Cuba.

"The last time we faced Cuba [at the Pan Am Cup in Peru] we lost to them, so we've had our sights set on this match for the last month and a half," said Canada captain Lucy Charuk after the game. "We knew it came down to tonight. We learned so much in the last five months, it's awesome. We love playing at home, it's just the best feeling!"

Earlier on Saturday in Langley, Nicaragua had shut out Saint Lucia 3-0 (25-12, 25-11, 25-13) in 55 minutes to finish third in the tournament.

Nicaragua's Kathy Massiell attacks against the Saint Lucia block of Cindy Wilson and Yosherbel Emmanuel in Langley.

Final Ranking:
1. Canada (qualified to Japan 2018)
2. Cuba (qualified to Japan 2018)
3. Nicaragua
4. Saint Lucia

Four more NORCECA tickets for the 2018 FIVB Women's World Championship will be handed out next month, when the Dominican Republic host Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Guatemala in Santo Dominigo, and Trinidad & Tobago host Mexico and Costa Rica in Port of Spain. Both these tournaments are scheduled for 13-15 October.

The three NORCECA qualifiers are part of the 2017 Senior Women's Continental Championship.

More information, including reaction, statistics and pictures, is available on the NORCECA website.

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