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The Globe and Mail

Canada reaches semis at women's volleyball Olympic qualifier

Sarah Pavan of Kitchener, Ont., scored 21 points to lead Canada to a decisive 25-17, 25-18, 25-18 quarter-final win over Mexico Wednesday night at the Olympic qualifying tournament in women's volleyball.

With the victory, Canada advances to semi finals against the Dominican Republic on Friday.

The Dominicans, the tournament's highest ranked team at No. 9 in the world, defeated Canada in four sets on Monday in round-robin play. Canada is ranked 22nd internationally.

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"We played a disciplined game," said Canada's head coach Arnd Ludwig. "Our defensive tactics gave Mexico a lot of problems. It was a total team effort."

Apart from very early in the first set, Canada only trailed once in the entire match against Mexico. That was in the third set when the Mexicans went on a five point run to take a 10-9 lead.

The Canadians responded with a seven-point run of their own with Jaclyn Ellis of Mississauga, Ont., serving that put the set and the match out of reach for Mexico, ranked 27th in the world.

In the first set, Liz Cordonier of Vancouver put Mexico far back with a six point service run of her own. In the second, Mexico closed the gap to 17-15 at one point but they were kept off balance by the Canadian strategies.

"We played steady," Pavan said. "We improved our blocking defence and serving. We felt we had been serving to easy in the prior matches. We put pressure on them the whole game and never really allowed them to get back into it."

The other semifinal pits world number-10 Cuba against Puerto Rico. Cuba had a bye to the semi while Puerto Rico hammered Costa Rica in Wednesday's other quarter-final 25-12, 25-12, 25-9.

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