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Canada blows by Puerto Rico at Olympic men's volleyball qualifier

Toon Van Lankvelt of Rivers, Man., scored a game high 16 points Tuesday as Canada dumped Puerto Rico in straight sets at the NORCECA Olympic qualifying tournament in men's volleyball.

Set scores were 25-19, 25-20 and 25-13.

Canada improved its record to 2-0 in round-robin play and will face world No. 5 Cuba for first spot in its group and a bye to the semifinal on Wednesday. The tournament champion earns a ticket to the 2012 London Olympics.

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"It's nice to get these wins, we're only going to get better," said middle blocker Steve Brinkman of Bowmanville, Ont., playing in his 213th international match for Canada. "We are really finding our rhythm and are excited about the rest of this tournament."

Although Canada is ranked 18th in the world and Puerto Rico 17th, the Canadians dominated the match with a strong blocking game in particular. Led by Van Lankvelt and Brinkman, with six points on the block each, the Canadians outblocked their opponents 15-3 overall.

"Our blocking system continued to work well tonight," said Canada's head coach Glenn Hoag. "It really frustrated Puerto Rico. Our guys stayed concentrated and respected the game plan. There was some concern with our service game, but overall I'm really pleased."

Meanwhile Saskatoon's Gavin Schmitt continued to fire missiles on the attack adding 14 points for the Canadians while libero Dan Lewis of Oakville, Ont., continued to display amazing ball control and retrieval abilities.

"Dan is our leader on defence," Hoag said. "He really keeps it organized and he was really well concentrated tonight and had a super game."

Brinkman likes the consistency on the Canadian team.

`'Every year we are finding it easier and easier to find our game early in the season," he said. `'The training we have done with this group over the last couple of years has really paid off. I've been with some great Canadian teams, but this group I feel is something special."

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In other matches at the regional qualifier for North and Central America and the Caribbean, Cuba defeated the Dominican Republic in straight sets and Mexico beat Trinidad and Tobago in four sets. The U.S., played Costa Rica in Tuesday's late match.

The first place teams in each group get a bye to the semis while second and third cross over in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

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