Gray leads Canada in Volleyball Challenger Cup victory


Lima, Peru, June 30, 2019 – Canada won the 2019 edition of the women's FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup in a five-set thriller 3-2 (25-17, 25-16, 21-25, 23-25, 15-8) against the Czech Republic on Sunday in Lima, Peru. The 2019 Volleyball Challenger Cup winners qualify for the 2020 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Nations League.

The Canadians shut down a tough Czech Republic who recovered from losing the first two sets by large gaps and extended the final match to an overtime finish. 
Canada’s setback came from losing Autumn Bailey (due to a knee injury) just short from winning set two (22-14). 

Canada outblocked the Czechs by a 13-5 margin and led by a 68-52 attacking margin, while the Europeans led on a huge 14-4 margin in serves. 

Alexa Gray scored a match-high of 27 points, followed by Jennifer Cross with 16 points (six blocks), while Kiera Van Ryk (five blocks) and Emily Maglio added 15 points each. Michaela Mlejnkova with 17 points led the Czech Republic, while Tereza Patockova and Eva Svobodova (five aces) contributed with 12 points each.

Kyla Richey, captain of Canada said: “These are tears of joy for winning and of devastation for Autumn’s injury, which took us some time to re-group from.” Kyla added that the victory was huge, “We are trying to get volleyball Canada back at the top and reaching the VNL is the first step to get there.”

“I do not know if I have ever been prouder of my team,” said head coach Tom Back who also described the victory as “a lot of heart” from his team. “We were all concerned about Autumn and it took us a while to shake out of it; and the Czech Republic is an excellent team that had us against the ropes.”

Argentina finish in third place 

Earlier, Argentina finished in third place at the 2019 Volleyball Challenger Cup after their 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-14) win over Croatia.

Argentina topped Croatia with 42-30 margin in attacks, while Lucia Fresco led the offence with 19 points (three aces included), followed by 11 points from Daniela Bulaich. Croatia’s Lucia Milnar scored 10 points.

“Beating a European team in straight sets is a big deal for us; we were focused and after a great beginning, the team gained more confidence,” said leading scorer Lucía Fresco.